May 7—Sodexo School Services and Chartwells Higher Education received two of the six awards handed out Saturday night in Chicago at the first Operator Innovation Awards sponsored by the National Restaurant Association.
"These restaurant operators are true pioneers of innovation and leadership, who are breaking new ground on how to successfully run a restaurant business," said Jack Crawford, Convention Chair for NRA Show 2012 and President and CEO of Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative, LLC. "It is our honor to recognize our Operator Innovations Award winners and, we believe they will serve as an inspiration to restaurateurs throughout our industry."
Sodexo was recognized in the Menu Development category for its Future Chefs program. The annual Future Chefs National Competition challenges students to create and prepare healthy recipes in local competitions. 12 recipes per year are chosen to be featured on school lunch menus around the country, and this "For Kids, By Kids" approach has proven to be a great way to increase participation and get kids to try new foods.
Chartwells was honored in the Health & Wellness category for its Balance U program. Balance U is Chartwells’ nationwide program developed to educate and encourage students to eat healthier. Not only does Balance U include gluten-free recipes, menus and labeling, but the program also includes a strong education component for students and employees alike, featuring nutritional labeling information, events and classes and more.
The other winners were Evelyn Hill Inc., New York City, which manages concessions at Liberty Island, in the Sustainability category for its recycling progam; Stacked Restaurants LLC, in the Technology category, for its "build-your-own" ordering system; and Waffle House, in the Food Safety category, for its public-private partnership to secure foodservice safety after a major disaster.
Evelyn Hill Inc. was chosen from the group as the Innovator of the Year.