For the second year, we present Steal This Idea on steroids. Click through for 10 “big” ideas to spark innovation for your own operation.
Hosting Healthy Meetings
North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C.
We recently went through our catering menu and looked at it in terms of health and allergens. We are always getting questions from customers about allergens or what items are gluten free on the catering menu. So we made an allergen-focused catering menu. Each of our catering event coordinators has a catering menu that marks items in terms of their allergens, so they can say to a customer, ‘If you get this buffet, here are the options for a person with this allergy.’
Ethnic Comfort Food
Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
We’re looking at our fall menu as we are really revolutionizing campus cuisine. One of our key objectives is celebrating the diversity of the student population through food. We’ve got students from across the globe. So a big part of redesigning the menu is incorporating more of those great global flavors so that we have bold tastes that are interesting. The idea is that you can have comfort foods no matter where you’re from. That means those classic American foods will be there as well. We want students to have great comfort foods and that brings us right into the global impact of big flavors.
Hospital Food Fight
Stillwaters Cancer Resource Center, Milwaukee
Two years ago, as a fundraiser, we created Hospital Food Fight. We invite the different medical systems in the area to donate money in exchange for their participation in the event, and we also personally reach out to chefs at the hospitals to encourage their participation. There are various sponsorship levels, but a $2,500 minimum donation will allow them to compete. The goal here is not only to raise money for our organization, which provides support for cancer patients and their families, but also to demonstrate that hospital food isn’t “hospital” food anymore.
Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.
Last fall, we opened Arrillaga Family Dining Commons, a state-of-the-art dining facility with a central production kitchen. The dining hall features Performance Dining, which was developed by Stanford Dining in partnership with Stanford Athletics, the School of Medicine and The Culinary Institute of America.
Compass Group North America, Charlotte, N.C.
We found our customers needed a faster and easier way to get their midday meals. With the popularity of smartphones growing, particularly on our corporate and college campuses, we decided to find a way to make ordering food easier and faster. We already had online ordering, but we decided going mobile was the way to go so we created the Zipthru Mobile Ordering system.
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Wellness in the Schools
Wellness in the Schools, New York City
Wellness in the Schools is a nonprofit that started off very small, grass roots, parent-run. Our mission is to improve fitness, nutrition and environment in New York City public schools. I started this organization because I was a teacher and I did breakfast and lunch duty, and I watched as kids came in with bags of chips and a bottle of soda for breakfast. Our long-term mission is to combat childhood obesity with the short-term mission of getting kids to be more aware of why we’re changing foods, why we’re making school environments healthier, providing students with a healthy lunch and recess period so that they can go back to class ready to focus.
The Original Burger Co.
Sodexo, Allentown, Pa.
The Original Burger Co. was developed to fill a need in the Sodexo portfolio for a quick-service burger concept. It’s all about customization. It’s all about quality in the customization of those ingredients, and that customers can get it fast. Within that customization we have some core toppings for the burgers, but the excitement comes from some of the limited-time offer toppings that we have.
Smash Your Food
Food N’ Me, Bellevue, Wash.
I created an educational video game called Smash Your Food. I’ve been a nutritionist for 20-plus years. An obese client in her thirties was gifted an hour with me. I started talking to her about very basic things and she had no idea what I was talking about. She started crying. She asked, ‘Why didn’t anyone tell me this in second grade when I started putting on weight?’ At that time my daughter was in second grade. I called her teacher and said I need to give these kids a basic nutrition lesson. The teacher next door said come teach my class. This was the end of the school year. I said I’ll come in and do an intro, but I’m going to spend the summer putting together a program.
Colorado Springs School District 11, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Allerschool is an online program that helps parents and students know what allergens are in every one of our food items. It went live in August 2011. It’s made our special diets management so much easier. We have a whole lot of students—it seems like more and more each year—who need special diets and special meals.
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Comprehensive School Dining
Academy for Global Citizenship, Chicago
The Academy for Global Citizenship opened in 2008. Our whole mission is to focus on positive health and nutrition, environmental sustainability and international mindedness. As part of our mission focused on positive health and nutrition, we integrate that concept into our overall philosophy, culture and programs. Given our commitment to environmental sustainability, our organic food pilot program has been part of our school’s structure and approach since our first day of school.