The Freshman 15 – A College Dining Dilemma

The hardest things in college are choosing your major and deciding what to eat each day. Hailey, a millennial, takes us through her dining hall.

How do you feed hungry college students?
Hailey gives us her take on college foodservice.

By Hailey – A millennial

The hardest things in college are choosing your major and deciding what to eat each day. When you first start college, as I did last fall, dining hall food really isn’t that bad, but after some time it just gets old, uninspiring and heavy.  There comes a time when burgers and pizza will not suffice, not just because of the repetition, but because the scale is screaming at you and so is your health.

At my university, more than 25% of students live on campus. Although there are three foodservice dining hall locations on my meal plan, I usually eat at the closest one because of time constraints and let’s face it…pure laziness. We have four different choices of meal plans. Many females choose the 10 or 14 meal plan but guys and athletes choose 19 or unlimited meals.

How many calories?
What shall I eat today?

Looking around the dining hall, there are lots of different choices. It is set up buffet style with a salad bar in one corner, two main dishes in the middle, pizza and burgers in the other corner, and a cereal station. Here’s the usual food breakdown: Pizza, soup, salad, burgers, fries, pasta, make-your-own sandwich bar, and cereal bar. Then there are two main entrées that change everyday. Revolving entrees that come to mind are chicken fried steak, raviolis, and barbeque salmon. There are also ethnic inspired choices like teriyaki chicken, gyros, and burritos.

Another temptation lies outside the dining hall but still on campus – food courts. The one across from my dorm houses a Panda Express, Papa Johns, Subway, Chic-fil-A, and so much more. This makes things harder when trying to stick with a diet and eating healthy (with the exception of Subway). It just seems impossible not to gain the dreaded freshman 15. The smoothie shop does help with meal replacement and healthier food consumption. You wouldn’t believe how good real fruit tastes some days. They offer parfaits, energy boost smoothies, and frozen yogurt.

Our dining hall accommodates dairy allergies with soy milk.
For those with dairy allergies and sensitivities, our dining hall provides alternative solutions to milk.

Accommodating special diets is also a consideration on campus. For example, at the dining hall’s cereal station, almond and soy milk are provided for those students who are lactose intolerant. Also, some pizzas are made with gluten free crust for students avoiding gluten because of an intolerance or lifestyle choice. Additionally, many of us want to “eat clean” and/or organic.  It is actually really easy to eat clean if you stick to the salad bar and only grab a baked, grilled or roasted meat from the entrée line. The struggle is repetition. A salad and a plain turkey patty is not something we really want to eat every meal of every day. As for organic, we definitely aren’t seeing it.

Salads are usually your best choice for a health-conscious meal.
The salad bar is a way to keep your diet on track.

I know MyPlate and the new healthier eating initiatives set forth by Mrs. Obama are trending but I’m still unsatisfied with my college dining experience thus far. I think that more can be done to help college students enjoy eating on campus. First, make the caloric intake visible on the menu, not just online. Second, let us know what we are eating by placing an ingredient card next to the food. Third, offer samples of food so that trying new foods isn’t super scary. Dumping uneaten food makes us sad, too! Fourth, make sure there are plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (possibly organic) to choose from as well as lean meats and seafood. Fifth, implement cook on demand areas like stir-fry and brick-ovens. Finally, consider purchasing organic. Set up a station that only serves organic food. Try it just to see if your business picks up!

The one big difference from home to college is always having dessert available.
Save room for dessert!

Although I talk a good number about eating healthy, please don’t take away my option for a hot fudge sundae or a chili dog! Millennials are hard to please and we want everything instantly but you know we are the future and we’re eating out.

Quick and Practical K-5 School Foodservice Advice

Karen J. Peterson, SNS (School Nutrition Specialist) provides our readers with helpful tips to lessen the frustration and challenges facing K-5 kitchens.

Helpful tips for K-5 school foodservice
Founder and president of Lunchline, Inc.

We are privileged to have Karen J. Peterson, SNS (School Nutrition Specialist) provide our readers with helpful tips to lessen the frustration and challenges commonly faced in K-5 kitchens. Karen is a 25 + year veteran of the foodservice industry. She is currently serving as founder and president of Lunchline, Inc. a company dedicated to the K-12 market channel.

Tip #1 – Sometimes K-5 students need encouragement to eat their veggies! There are always the perennial favorites: ranch dressing, salsa and hummus. But how about some fun?  Broccoli easily transforms into baby trees or dinosaur food and cauliflower becomes brains – PERFECT for Halloween!

Tip #2 – Picky eaters are a real concern in foodservice. After all, it attributes to less kids buying school lunch and/or throwing much of the lunch away and going hungry for the remainder of the day. Trying new foods needs to be about nutritional benefits. Associate fun symbols with foods so kids will understand why they need to eat them – calcium for stronger bones, beta-carotene essential for vision, fiber for digestive health, and lower sodium for a healthy heart.

Tip #3 – Does K-12 menu planning have you fussy?  Planning healthy, nutritious, attractive and compliant menus are more challenging today than ever before.  If there is no access to a third-party system, try the old-fashioned buddy system with neighboring districts, manufacturers, or state resources. Collaborating is COOL!
Tip #4 – There are many benefits to K-12 cafeterias cooking from scratch, however, how practical is it given the time, budgetary and quantity limitations? The benefits to scratch cooking are numerous and convincing: lower food cost, eye appeal, ingredient control, allergy concerns, student input, local trends and employee morale. The challenges sometimes outweigh the benefits: employee training/skill level, labor cost, cooking equipment, time, food safety and consistency. My advice is to investigate speed scratch dry-mix products like gravy and sauce mixes. These items are mixed with water and ready in seconds, saving you time and eliminating consistency worries. They are also sodium conscience as well as being gluten, shellfish and nut free. Check out Foothill Farms Flavorwise product line http://foothillfarms.com/k12/about_flavorwise.cfm.
Tip #5 – Want to increase your participation in your schools? Take a hint from Costco (or other similar retailers) and have sample days. Kids look forward to visiting mall food courts and big wholesalers on weekends because they know the sample stations are in full operation! How often do you end buying whatever is tasted? What an excellent way to introduce new foods to your students!
Tip #6 – Cafeteria theme days are fun and easy implementations for school lunch. What comes to mind when you think about your days at summer camp (other than pesky mosquitoes)? Good old fashion fun along with a hearty appetite for breakfast, lunch and dinner! After all, there isn’t much snacking at summer camp!  Turn your elementary lunchroom into “base camp cafe” with each classroom creating a camp flag.  Display the flags in flag holders mounted on the wall if indoors or on stanchions if outdoors.
Tip #7 – Are the new regs causing pressure from parents, administrators, as well as students? People often react to what they don’t know or understand.  Consider hosting a “food show” where everyone can see and taste the food currently on the menu and evaluate possible new additions.  Input is a powerful equalizer!
Tip #8 – Accommodating special diets can be overwhelming. You’ve collected all the paper work – now what?  For inspiration, visit your local hospital’s dietary program. Meet with the people responsible for menu creation and gather ideas that can translate into your operation.  Also, consider setting aside a small prep area that is used for special diets only.

Karen holds an M.A. in Organizational Leadership from College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota and a B.S. in Foods and Nutrition from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. She has also earned her SNS (School Nutrition Specialist) credential from SNA. If you have a question for Karen or Foothill Farms, please leave us a comment and we’ll get back with you soon.

Gluten-Free Infographic Helps Foodservice Operators Offer New Menu Items

Foothill Farms® created an infographic titled A Foodservice Guide to Gluten Free. The infographic informs restaurant owners about the importance of offering gluten-free menu items. It contains relevant data from leaders in the foodservice and research industries illustrating trends in dining behavior, popular gluten free menu items, and tips to ensuring a gluten free dining experience.

The gluten-free eating trend is on the rise and restaurant owners and chefs are taking note. More and more people are eliminating gluten because of dietary restrictions or lifestyle choices. One in every 133 Americans has Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by consuming gluten protein. Because of this statistic, we created an infographic titled “A Foodservice Guide to Gluten-Free“. The infographic informs restaurant owners about the importance of offering gluten-free menu items. It contains relevant data from leaders in the foodservice and research industries illustrating trends in dining behavior, popular gluten-free menu items, and tips to ensuring a gluten-free dining experience. The infographic also details a new FDA regulation that determines how much gluten can be in a product before it can legally be labeled gluten-free as well as details on cross-contamination in kitchens.

FDA regulations enforce proper gluten free labeling
Celiac Disease Statistics

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. If a person with Celiac or gluten-sensitivity chooses a dish at a restaurant that is labeled gluten-free, they do so for health reasons. If they get sick with symptoms similar to a gluten reaction, they will likely not return for a second dining experience. Secondly, if a family member is gluten-sensitive or has Celiac Disease they are likely to influence dining decisions. We offer 67 gluten-free products, including mixes for dressings, gravies, sauces, soup bases, cheese sauces, seasoning and desserts. Recently, our marketing staff created an easy reference sell sheet for operators wanting to offer gluten-free menu items which is located under the resources/marketing materials tab on our home page. For K-12 customers, our gluten-free sell sheet has been expanded and targets a wider scope of dietary restrictions. The “Kids’ Allergens, Intolerances and Special Diets” sell sheet features Flavorwise™ products in an easy chart that showcases gluten-free products as well as products free from nuts, crustaceans, lactose, HFC, no added MSG and vegetarian products. It is also housed under the resources/marketing materials tab on our website.

We hope that our infographic is helpful to you! That’s why we created it!

Increase Sales with Gluten Free Menu Items
Trends in Gluten Free Menu Items

 

Healthier Choices with Flavorwise™

It’s not just about doing the right thing, it is about embracing it! Meaning we all know that eating healthy is the right choice for our bodies but unless we do it, it’s just talk. As foodservice professionals, we want to walk that walk with our customers and our customers’ customers.

Foothill Farms® Flavorwise™ products were created to help reduce sodium, trans fat, saturated fat, calories, cholesterol and MSG on restaurant menus. Many products are gluten-free. We want to help our customers meet school and healthcare nutritional guidelines as well as support restaurants that desire a lighter menu. Currently, there are 29 products that house the green Flavorwise™ flag.

According to a recent study by The Port Washington, a N.Y.-based market research firm, menu innovation and older consumers’ increased spending are among the top 10 trends shaping the restaurant industry in 2014.

29 products house the green Flavorwise™ flag.
Reduce sodium, trans fat, saturated fat, calories, cholesterol and MSG on restaurant and K-12 menus.

Our country’s aging population is not cooking. They are going out for meals which translates to our responsibility to meet their dietary restrictions or special diets. Many seniors are watching their cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, as well as overall fat content and calories. Paying attention to the trends, restaurants can attract repeat business by posting nutritional information (calories, sodium, fat) on their menus or by offering a special “healthful” menu section for those conscious of their diet.

“Consumers’ interest in healthful meal options is tied to the health needs of boomers and older individuals, the growth in ethnic groups accustomed to fresh food preparation, and greater awareness of the need for and benefits of healthful eating among younger patrons. As an example, NPD found a growing number of consumers who prefer gluten-free foods, not because of required dietary restrictions, but because of the benefits of overall more healthful eating.” (Ruggless, 2013)

Expanding our sauces, seasonings, salad dressings, and gravies within the Flavorwise™ label allows foodservice operators to explore healthier versions of their current menus without sacrificing taste or having to leave Foothill Farms® for a different brand. We’ve got “healthy” covered! For more information on Flavorwise™, please contact your foodservice broker or contact us.

Ruggless, R. (2013, December 16). 10 trends shaping the restaurant industry in 2014. Retrieved from Nation’s Restaurant News: http://nrn.com/food-trends/10-trends-shaping-restaurant-industry-2014?page=1