NEW Beginning

FoodService Director - What I Learned - Colleen RiveraA new healthy eating program at Westinghouse Electric Company’s Energy Center headquarters in Monroeville, Pa., extends from the café to vending to catering. Colleen Rivera, general manager for Parkhurst at Westinghouse, talks about partnering with Highmark Preventative Health Services to create the NEW Start menu.

FoodService Director - What I Learned - Colleen RiveraWhen Westinghouse Electric Company’s 2,400-employee Energy Center headquarters in Monroeville, Pa., partnered with Highmark Preventative Health Services and Parkhurst Dining Services—Westinghouse’s foodservice provider—to introduce the NEW Start menu line, the goal was to promote a healthier way of dining for Westinghouse’s associates. Colleen Rivera, general manager for Parkhurst at Westinghouse, talks about how the NEW Start program grew into something the employees could take pride in.

“NEW Start stands for nutrition, exercise and wellness. We started it off with our vending by trying to identify healthy options in the machines. Usually, when you go to a vending machine, you automatically think of fatty foods that are high in calories. We wanted to keep some of those in there because we do want to offer variety and we didn’t want to force NEW Start on anyone. However, we also wanted to identify some items that people were already eating that [could be] NEW Start items, as well as introduce new NEW Start items. We identified them all with a little NEW Start icon.

Secondly, we introduced the NEW Start items in the cafeteria, where we serve about 1,200 meals per day. Our executive chef partnered with a dietitian from Highmark and they created an entire binder full of NEW Start menu items, which all contain less than 400 calories and are low in fat and sodium. We wanted to be able to introduce one or two NEW Start options at each station every day. Those options ranged from a basic chicken and lemon sauce, which would be an entrée, to maybe a prepared salad on the salad bar or even a low-sodium chicken noodle soup.

The program was received extremely well by all of our guests when we brought it to the cafeteria. So we wanted to introduce NEW Start items on the catering menu so we could complete the three facets of dining at the Energy Center. We introduced a whole new catering menu and we put the little identifiers next to items that met the requirements. The catering items were also received extremely well. The percentage of NEW Start items on the catering menu has risen at least 30% to 40% from the time we introduced them back in January, which I thought was quite considerable. It is on the rise because the more people that taste these and realize they are NEW Start items, the more the excitement builds. Right after we introduced the NEW Start concept to the catering menu, our dining committee sent out a survey so we could ask the guests how they felt about the changes. Out of the 62% of people that said they use the cafeteria every day, almost 25% of them use the café more now due to having more healthy options to choose from.

The biggest thing I have learned is that given the choice, guests will choose the healthier option if it’s presented. By having Highmark and Westinghouse really spearhead this with Parkhurst, knowing that they were fully backing up everybody’s choice when they walked through the door, gave each one of the employees something to feel proud about. Like ‘not only am I fitting into my skinny jeans but I’m doing something for the benefit of the company.’

One thing I would recommend is to definitely offer taste testing, which we did. It helped quash any ideas that low fat items taste bad. We have this summer vegetable sandwich that would knock your socks off. If we had put that on the menu without offering taste tests our sales would have gone down by 50%, but because we offered a taste test, we practically sold out of the item. You have a stigma with people thinking healthy food tastes bad. I think by offering taste testing you can mobilize people’s taste buds so they don’t even know they’re eating healthy.”



More from our partners