Gluten-free options to increase in coming year

Schools plan to cut sodium to make menus healthier.

We asked operators what changes they plan to make to their menus in the next 12 months to make them healthier. The No. 1 answer—with 38% of operators—was offering gluten-free options, according to research by The Big Picture. The second most-cited answer was reducing sodium—at 34%—followed by offering more whole-grain options—at 33%.

While those three were the most cited tactics operators industrywide plan to use to make menus healthier, there were differences between the individual market segments when it comes to tackling menus.

Perhaps indicative of new federal regulations in the coming years, schools cited reducing sodium as its No. 1 way to make menus healthier, with 60% saying they plan to cut the salt in the next 12 months. At 60%, this was the most frequently cited healthy tactic among all market segments in the survey.  

Long-term care/senior living operators cited offering more whole-grain options as their No. 1 tactic to make menus healthier. In addition, 16% of these operators said they do not plan to make any changes to their menus options in the next year to make them healthier. 

Increasing gluten-free options was the most cited tactic to make menus healthier by colleges, B&I and hospital operators.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
sam kass talking menu directions

Sam Kass, former White House senior policy advisor for nutrition policy and executive director of the Let’s Move campaign, spoke at FSD’s MenuDirections conference in February.

Q: What’s one of the biggest food-related problems facing our country?

A: Obesity is the No. 1 threat to national security—20% of what we’re spending on healthcare is due to obesity. This isn’t a policy problem. The root of our challenge is culture, and what we value in our food. The healthy choice needs to be the easy choice.

Q: What are some important steps to modeling healthy eating and creating...
Menu Development
three sisters salad

“Everyone is doing Thai in college dining,” says Patrick McElroy, campus executive chef for Bon Appetit at Washington University in St. Louis. So he set out to “push the envelope” on ethnic cuisine and offer Native American dishes—a move that had support from the American Indian Student Association. But McElroy didn’t realize the challenge ahead. “I wanted to maintain the integrity and tradition of the food, but there were very few recipes,” he says. “I had to do a lot of research.” To develop the menu, he enlisted the help of chef Nephi Craig, founder of the Native American Culinary...

Managing Your Business
dancing fruit happy

When editor Jill Failla and I sat down to discuss ideas for this month’s cover story, data from FoodService Director’s sister company Technomic was the spark that lit the flame of conversation. She told me the most recent Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report had found that consumers are more willing to order and pay more for items they think are both healthy and tasteful. My questions: OK, what does that look like in practice? How does it factor into operators’ decision-making processes? And what the heck do we call that phenomenon?

After tossing around some ideas, we had it: the...

Menu Development
chili spaghetti

Iconic local dishes like Cincinnati chili may not be entirely healthy, but they are incredibly popular. Across the country, K-12 operators are finding ways to add these foods to their lunch menus while still meeting their nutritional requirements. How are they adapting popular recipes and bringing them to schools—and is it worth it?

Cincinnati chili has been a staple of Mason City Schools lunches for as long as anyone can remember. Located just outside of Cincinnati, the school system serves its chili in two traditional ways: covering a pile of spaghetti, or atop a cheese Coney dog...

FSD Resources