Food Management Digizine - Q1 2023

Getting back to business!

ON CAMPUS BIG QUESO How do you queso?

Western Michigan University Dining Services Flame broiled cod on a creamy pepper queso

Salad bars are back After a nearly three year interruption, salad bars are returning to school lunchrooms.

Hydroponic micro-farms The University of Nebraska Lincoln’s micro-farm provides fresh herbs and microgreens.


c o n t e n t s

Letter from the editor

Tara Fitzpatrick

Senior Executive Editor, The Restaurant & Food Group

4 Harvard Dining updates menus with Tara Fitzpatrick 8 How do you queso? 6 Big Queso On Campus -



Sari Feltman 10 CC campuses 12

Getting to know FLIK’s

Food truck serves multiple

Big Queso On Campus How do you Queso?

13 Cobb County

Schools expedites dining staff hiring

14 UNL dining hall gets very fresh with micro-farm

14 UNL’s dining hall micro-farm

kids excited to eat! 16

Hot tips & tricks to get

the spotlight 20

Diverse farmers in

22 Salad bars have made their way back to school lunchrooms!

Baptist Health cafeteria menu looks to get more Fresh & Fit 21

County Schools 22

Salad bars return at Fairfax

school lunch program 23

Culinary students assist high


26 Don’t waste your entitlement funds!

Watch with Food Management



Mike Buzalka

More variety and a greater focus on wellness and sustainability highlight offerings for the 2022-23 school year Upon her arrival on the

In addition, HUDS is supporting students with special dietary needs to ensure that they can enjoy full participation in the community as Campus Dietitian Karen Jew creates individualized plans based on each student’s unique needs, ensuring access to a healthy, inclusive experience. To supplement the regular seasonal cycle menu, HUDS also laid out events for each month that allow it to engage with and celebrate the university’s diverse community through food. LatinX heritage month featured chef-inspired arepas, ceviche, street tacos and enchiladas while HUDS partnered with the Center for African Studies to bring forward students’ personal, plant-based recipes, like Bariis Iskukaris (Somali Rice) during World Food Day. Meanwhile, this past fall also saw the launch of a new meal plan for graduate students called GradPlus that features an expanded offering of campus cafe locations and extends to Harvard Extension School students. It allows students to purchase a declining balance meal plan with $400 allotted for the fall semester and $500 allotted for the spring semester, and also includes a 10% discount for any purchase made with the meal plan, which can be used at six HUDS cafes, located at Harvard Law School, Harvard Kennedy School, the Science and Engineering Complex, Harvard Divinity School, the School of Public Health, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Harvard Dining will be featured in March as FM’s Innovator of the Month on the FM website with a full profile feature exploring the program’s forays into healthy, sustainable menus and operational protocols.

Harvard University campus in April 2021 as managing director of the oldest collegiate foodservice in the country, Smitha Haneef laid out a clear vision and priorities for transforming the Harvard University

Dining at Harvard: Welcome!

Dining Services (HUDS) hospitality experience. HUDS serves an average of 22,000 meals a day during the academic year totaling around five million annually. HUDS began the year in Residential Dining with several menu refinements, synthesized from student, faculty, management and culinary team inputs by Martin Breslin, Director for Culinary Operations. Among the enhancements were… • The salad bar received a makeover to make it a more complete, nutritious meal destination, becoming Greens & Grains with weekly suggested bowl constructions, such as the Big Apple or the Sesame Ginger Salmon. • The lunchtime deli bar now has greater variety, with ingredients for vegetarian and meat- based personally crafted sandwiches (such as Mesquite Tofu and Guacamole or Toasted Cage Free Egg Salad with Pickle Chips and Tomato) and an option for students to make a panini with the nearby panini press. • At lunchtime a daily chef-crafted, biodiverse, small-bite fruit or vegetable dish, called Delish!, now allows the culinary team to showcase their skills and the local bounty. Dishes have included a fennel salad with wild Maine blueberries, roasted brussels sprouts with miso soy, sesame and chili flakes, or Latin-spiced fried green tomatoes with salsa fresca. • Global Bistro Bowls have been available on Thursdays, offering a restaurant-style dish that weekly celebrates a different world cuisine, be it a French bouillabaisse, a Caribbean Sancocho, or an Ethiopian Doro or Misir Wat. • Dessert got an upgrade on week-nights to feature a sweet treat centered on fruit, giving students a chance to tailor the level of their indulgence.

Venison Stew served during the Native American Month celebration

Bariis Iskukaris HUDS partnered with the the university’s Center for African Studies to bring forward students’ personal, plant- based recipes like Bariis Iskukaris (Somali Rice) dish during World Food Day.


BIG QUESO ON CAMPUS College chefs melt down the queso and turn up the flavors with award-winning recipes for the recent “How Do You Queso?” Competition. Tara Fitzpatrick FM has covered the queso trend a few times in recent history, and the cheesy, melty, dippable, dress-up-able queso is just getting started, flowing like lava through college campuses where students love to get a little (okay, a lot) cheesy and hit the bar…the queso bar that is! Check out these past queso trends: Melt-ology 101: Cheesy menu items made to crave 16 must-try melty cheese menu items A competition hosted by Land O’Lakes Foodservice to promote a white cheese queso drew in 133 cheesy recipe entries from chefs and menu developers at colleges and universities nationwide. The sheer variety of the recipes blew judges away, as they tasted their way through Korean style nachos, fried queso bites, a spicy Texican queso eggs benedict, succulent flame- broiled cod on a creamy pepper queso and more. Korean-style nachos Created by: Chef Tom Nicklow, Foodservice Director/Executive Chef, SAGE Dining Service, Inc., Towson, MD Why it won: These trendy nachos have it all: Bulgogi beef, nacho cheese, edamame, lettuce and kimchi.

Korean-Style Nachos


White cheese stuffed chiles poblanos Created by: Chef Mike Murphy, Head Chef, University of Illinois, Champaign, Ill. Why it won: Chiles rellenos is a Mexican food legend and this one takes it over the top with egg white-battered peppers stuffed with white

Flame-broiled cod on a creamy pepper queso Created by: Chef Tom Nicklow, Foodservice Director/Executive Chef, SAGE Dining Service, Inc., Towson, MD Why it won: These trendy nachos have it all: Bulgogi beef, nacho

cheese queso, fried and served with more white

Flame-broiled cod on a creamy pepper queso

cheese, edamame, lettuce and kimchi.

White cheese stuffed chiles poblanos

queso and the vibrant roasted tomato and pibil sauce with cilantro and jalapeno oil.

Texico queso benedict

Smoked queso cider mill donuts bread pudding Created by: Chef Frank Turchan, Campus Executive Chef, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. Why it won: In the Midwest, the saying goes “An apple pie without some cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.” This bread

Created by: Chef Toni Thomas, Execution Chef & Production Manager, Aramark/1845 @ Memorial Baylor University, Waco, Tex. Why it won: The elements are all present for brunch heaven with a “Texican” twist: Queso gordita, poached egg, white cheese sauce, hollandaise, Texican guajillo hot chicken, avocado, pickled red onion and radish.

Smoked queso cider mill donuts bread pudding

Texico queso benedict

pudding has smoky applewood white cheese baked right in, and it’s served with sour cream apple cider sauce.

Queso bites Created by: Chef Jonathan Hunt, Senior Executive Chef, Aramark at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio Why it won: The secret’s in the breading: These bites boast a crunchy corn tortilla exterior that’s holding queso, pico de gallo and fire-roasted salsa.

Cheesy pan de muerto Created by: Chef Ivan Cedeno, Chef de Cuisine, UC San Diego, La Jolla, Calif. Why it won: Translated to “bread of the dead,” or “dead bread” this amazing Mexican sweet bread is traditionally baked for Dia de los Muertos celebrations. With the added queso, we could celebrate this year-round.

Queso bites

Cheesy pan de muerto

How Do You Queso? Queso bar

Cheesy chicken & waffles Created by: Canet Waters, Lake Washington Institute of Technology Instructor, Lynwood, Wash. Why it won: Chicken and waffles traditionally plays to that “savory- sweet” vibe. But this version is decidedly “savory-cheesy,” with white cheese sauce instead of the usual maple syrup. Texican guajillo hot chicken, avocado, pickled red onion and radish.

Queso Bar

Cheesy chicken and waffles

Created by: Chef Robert Burnell, Executive Chef, Westfield State University Dining Services, Westfield, Mass. Why it won: WSU Dining let students take the wheel with this DIY queso bar, turning them

loose on tortilla chips, fries, hush puppies, chicken tenders and/or roasty shishito peppers (a genius idea to dip into queso, btw).


LISTEN WITH FM On Demand with Tara Fitzpatrick is your back-of-the-house pass to insightful, thought-provoking and fun conversations with onsite foodservice’s leaders, top chefs and dietitians, industry icons, marketing mavens, up-and-comers, experts, and fascinating friends from all the segments FM covers.

Bowling Green University’s Office of Sustainability joins forces with BGSU Dining by Chartwells for big steps in sustainability. Marketing Director Jon Zachrich takes us behind the scenes of how the compost (and corresponding marketing copy) is made. The dirt on making composting cool from BGSU marketing guru An expert from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) helps deconstruct picky eating, feeding and swallowing disorders and more, as we look at new findings and actual help beyond “try it, you’ll like it.” How can you best help the picky eaters in your life?

25 min

30 min

From volunteering with Project Rooted to making college students feel at home, this culinarian has a lot going on. Midwestern roots with U of Dubuque’s Director Andy Mettert

23 min

Chef and GM Michael Cleary has taken a deep dive into fermentation at St. John’s College in Annapolis, experimenting with housemade hot sauce, pickled mushrooms from the Noma cookbook and plenty of student engagement with a blog and the new Kimchi Club. The podcast gets pickled with Bon Appetite & fermentation at St. John’s College A frequent visitor to the U.S. via events like Menus of Change and NACUFS conferences, Head of Bars and Dining at the University of Reading Matt Tebbit shares his impressions on college dining here vs. there and reflects on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the country’s mourning period, which coincides with the start of the school year. College dining fit for a king in the UK

33 min

32 min


GETTING TO KNOW FLIK’S SARI FELTMAN Mike Buzalka school community. Over the summer I was able to really see the team in action, going from ‘prep mode’ to ‘opening mode’ in just a few weeks. We opened over 25 new schools from coast to coast in addition to re- opening all of our existing schools for the back-to-school season.” Q: You’ve been busy! I’m really interested in Human-Centered design! Can you tell me a bit more about that and how you’re seeing it relate to dining? A: “We recognize that every school is unique; personalization has become a critical aspect of FISD’s approach to designing the community experiences and delivering innovation. FISD isn’t just about the dining hall, but about the hospitality experience overall. If wea use human- centered design thinking to approach how each campus functions, we can truly create something that’s transformative and serves our students, faculty and staff in unique and exciting ways. “That might mean leveraging space traditionally used for dining into a collaborative learning environment outside of lunch hours where students can host working sessions with readily available brain-boosting snacks; it could manifest itself in programming that speaks to the specific campus community; or it can simply create efficiencies over lunch periods, so students spend less time online waiting for lunch and instead enjoying time to socialize over delicious, nutritious food. Only time will tell, but I’m very interested in exploring today’s students, parents, faculty, staff and administration’s points of view into our innovation process.”

First and foremost, let’s say it loud and proud: Sari Feltman has broken a glass ceiling: “I’m so excited to join the FLIK team and be the first female division president of the FLIK Independent School Dining (FISD) team!” We asked Feltman a few key questions to get to know her.

Q: How did you get your current job and what were you doing before? “Prior to joining FLIK, I was a principal consultant, leading businesses in transformational change, helping create roadmaps for success and driving innovation. “My earlier years, nearly three decades, were spent in global food services, software and facilities management. I am an operator at heart and it has always been my passion to solve problems and make a difference. When I left operations, after my first decade in the hospitality industry, it was to pursue a winding path in just about every functional role in my quest to learn, grow and broaden my understanding of how the business works. “FLIK Hospitality Group and the Compass team have always been on my radar as an organization leading the pack in hospitality and dining services and when the right opportunity came up for me to be a part of the team and help determine what the next decades of service look like, I couldn’t pass it up.” Q: Where are you based and will you be traveling a lot? “I’m based in New Jersey, but like most of my team, I value being on campus and working from our schools rather than in a traditional office. Being immersed in the day-to-day hospitality experience on campus helps ensure I’m keeping a pulse on the state of our business. I draw a lot of inspiration from seeing our associates in action.” Q: What have you been doing to get yourself acclimated to Flik? “Mission critical has been spending time with our people who make it happen every day to fully understand the ins and outs of our business and uncover opportunities for growth and innovation in the upcoming school year. “I’ve been spending time with my new colleagues, absorbing all the historical knowledge and information they have to share, meeting with clients and discussing how FISD can add increased value to the

“I draw a lot of from seeing our associates in action.” inspiration

Q: We’ll stay in touch to find out about some very cool initiatives you have in the works, but first, can you tell us about efforts for diversity? A: “We’re making our commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging much louder. Through dedicated leadership development and programming managed by FLIK Hospitality Group’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Council (DIAC), we’re implementing more structured trainings for our associates to ensure an inclusive and accepting workplace. In collaboration with FLIK’s Entrepreneurial Council (a small group of impassioned employees dedicated to investing in and improving the employment cycle of Black and Brown associates from hire to retire), this programming will be available to all our school communities, parents and students to create an environment where innovation thrives and individuals’ values are integrated and respected.


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Mike Buzalka

Aladdin Campus Dining recently rolled out a food truck at Pearl River Community College in Mississippi to provide hot food to its campuses.

Pearl River Community College in Mississippi recently started giving many of its students a new option to get hot meals on all its campuses through a new food truck operated by its food provider, Aladdin Campus Dining.

famous Philadelphia Cheese steak made with beef or chicken and paired with fries or kettle chips!” FM: Is the food prepared on the trucks and if so, with what kind of equipment? Wilson: “Everything is prepared on the truck. We have a flat-top grill, two fryers, and a char broiler, along with refrigeration.” FM: What value does this bring to the schools, their students and Aladdin’s dining operation at the schools? Wilson: “There is no operation on the Hattiesburg campus, so we are bringing food service to the campus which is a commuter campus only. Students don’t have to leave campus if they wanted lunch. If they leave campus for food, they would have to drive four to five miles to get something, so it’s very convenient for them, they have access without having to leave campus.” As a last word, Wilson notes that the vehicle is almost literally a can’t-miss dining outlet… “Although The Pearl River Community College “Street Food” Truck is advertised by mass email to students, the truck is the first stop before you enter campus, so you can’t miss us!” he says. “We are upfront and personal!”

Here is a local TV news story video about the food truck rollout

That’s not the only initiative been taken at the community college, which is also planning to transform an old bookstore into a new, open-air extension of its campus dining facility, including a patio and a menu serving popular college items like wings, fries, burgers and wraps. Here’s a local TV news video report of that development.

Here’s a local TV news video report of that development.

FM approached Jerome Wilson, Aladdin Campus Dining Food Service Director, with three questions about the new food truck… FM: When does it operate and what do you serve? Wilson: “At Hattiesburg, the food truck officially opened Tuesday, January 24th with over 100 students visiting the newest dining location! Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch service, the street food truck operates on a three-week cycle. The menu features a standard sour dough burger, fries and a coke; Taco Tuesdays feature street tacos, steak and chicken fajitas on rotating Tuesdays; Wednesdays feature chicken dishes like chicken sandwiches, boneless chicken wings and tenders; Thursday is their take on the

New food truck at Pearl River Community College



Mike Buzalka

Like many districts, Cobb County Schools faced delays and procedural obstacles in its efforts to hire adequate staff, so it found a way to expedite the process.

Finding that the Cobb County School District’s hiring process was a hurdle for many applicants as the basic application can take over an hour to complete, its Food & Nutrition Services department decided to streamline the process.

FNS team members on hand to help walk the candidate through completing online application starting our usual HR process. The candidates were more willing to invest the time at that point as they had already completed an interview and they knew we were recommending them for hire.”

FM: How were the hiring events promoted and how many were there? Hanlin: “We’ve completed 5 hiring events since July of 2022 at locations around our county. For each event we targeted the schools in the

FM approached the district’s Executive Director of Food & Nutrition Services Emily Hanlin with three questions about the hiring event program… FM: How did the idea originate and what steps did you have to take to schedule the events? Hanlin: “Most of the 2021-22 school year we struggled with hiring enough staff to fill our large number of vacancies using our normal hiring process. To determine what the issue might be we assessed pay and the process. We found that the District’s traditional hiring process was causing most of our issues as our hourly pay was competitive with other similar food service jobs in our community. The first step of the process required an applicant to complete an online application that can take over an hour to complete for someone familiar with the process. We found we had a number of applications in the system that were started and never finished. Of those we ended up hiring, about a third had started and abandoned an application prior to coming to the hiring event. We needed to remove this barrier to entry, so we created a short Google form as a screening tool to use in finding interested candidates. We partnered with our County Library System to have these events at libraries across the county so that we could do them during the school day and in various geographic areas. Instead of managers doing individual interviews at their school they were able to participate in the event and interview multiple candidates and then have other

Hiring events that streamline the hiring process a success

area of the event and sent emails to parents letting them know about the job opportunities in their area schools with details about their upcoming hiring event and a link to the Google form for those interested. The email highlighted the benefits of working in a school nutrition program related to hours, benefits and non-weekend/holiday work schedule. We also included information about sharing the information with their non-parent friends in the community. We also posted information and the link on our social media accounts as well.” FM: What was the general skill level of the individuals hired and what/how much training did they receive? Hanlin: “These events were solely for hiring our Food Service Assistant team members. Manager hiring was handled through our normal process as most of those applicants are internal. All our new team members go through a 10 week on-boarding process which includes hands on and videos training and completion of a 30- hour Orientation for Nutrition Employees (O.N.E.) course provided by our state agency.”



Mike Buzalka

The University of Nebraska Lincoln recently installed a micro-farm in one of its dining halls to provide ultra-fresh herbs and microgreens to dishes served in the venue.

FM: What crops are you growing and why were they chosen? Jewell: “We are currently growing Thai Basil, Mint, Pea Shoot microgreens, a lettuce “crunch mix” that consists of Romaine, Green Butterhead, and Iceberg lettuces, and another lettuce called Lolla Rosa. We chose these items for two primary reasons. First, they are all things we can utilize in more than one of our venues in the dining hall. We have one venue that is exclusively gluten-free that offers our customers the option of building their own salad, as well as pizzas and noodle bowls which allow us to utilize everything we are growing. In addition, our Grains and Greens grab and go salads offer another opportunity to use what we’re growing. The second reason we chose these items was for presentation in the micro-farm itself. The diversity of the items grown provide an attractive visual for our customers to see as they eat in our dining hall.” FM: What are the main benefits of the dining hall micro-farm program to student customers, the campus dining program and the university? Jewell: “We feel the primary benefits are the quality and freshness of the ingredients we can offer, the ability to demonstrate our commitment to local and sustainable produce, which we believe is an increasingly important part of responsible environmental stewardship.”

Being sustainable and procuring more ingredients from local sources have been growing trends in most onsite dining markets and one offshoot has been the deployment of cutting edge hydroponic growing techniques to bring crop production literally to the dining venue in the form of micro-farm units. One debuted last September in the Selleck Dining Hall on the campus of the University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL).

Here is a local news story with a video report of the micro-farm.

FM recently caught up with Selleck Dining Hall Assistant Manager Matt Jewell to ask three questions about the micro-farm project… FM: Where did the idea come from and what did it take to make it happen? Jewell: “The idea had been floating around for a while. As we’ve developed our restaurant concepts over the past few years, we have been trying to concentrate on three main criteria: Fresh, Local and Sustainable. With the renovations at Selleck this past year the time was right to implement those ideas into our services there. As we were developing our “Grains and Greens” restaurant we often talked about buying from local vendors. One of the issues we faced was the size of our operations. Most local vendors were small scale operations, and the University uses a lot of whatever it is we buy. We are an agricultural campus and that got us thinking about producing our own hyper-local greens somewhere on campus. While we work on that, we also wanted to demonstrate to our students our commitment to local/sustainable foods. Growing greens in the same place you served them seemed like an ideal way to do that. So we are in the early stages of developing our overall concept but as very happy with the success so far of our Micro-Farm at Selleck Dining.”

Hydroponic growing for hyper-local greens


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HOT TIPS & TRICKS TO GET KIDS EXCITED TO EAT! Over the course of your career – whether it’s been 6 months or 25 years – what’s one of your most asked questions? If you’re like me, it’s “what is your favorite part of the job?” Kaitlin Tauriainen, RD | Ashwaubenon School District (WI)

If your immediate answer isn’t the kids, you’re probably in the wrong field. My second most asked question is “what exactly do you do each day?,” and I always wonder where to start. We do a million and one things, but what you do each day should relate

back to your passion for the job. “I feed kids.” Maybe you don’t physically serve them (though I bet you do more often than you’d like to admit), but you do all the things to get the kids into the cafeteria. You make the menus. You select the foods. You manage the staff, the budget, and the utilization of resources. You might have tough conversations with the state department of education, the USDA, or your congressmen. All these things come back to one common thread: I feed kids. It’s harder than ever to please our students right now. Many of our states just reverted to the dreaded full paid, reduced, or free meal status for our students (kudos to those states

Students and staff from Ashwaubenon School District in Wisconsin


who have deemed it necessary and important to offer free meals to all kids!). Our students are demanded so many things – early start times, practice after school, part-time jobs, college-credit courses – and they need food to sustain their energy and brain power throughout the day. Outside of school, kids are introduced to so many different options. You want Mexican food? Cool, that’s down the street. You want Thai? We’ve got that too. You want a cheeseburger? Here’s a list of 25 restaurants in the area that offer that option. If they’re lucky enough to have mom and/or dad home at dinner time, do they have the time to cook or the money to buy food? A lot of our kids aren’t even used to home cooking anymore. All of this leaves us guessing, calculating, and trying anything necessary to get kids in the door.

“We have started serving authentic cuisines

know and love it.

and the students

This is what I We’ve attracted more people who are saying one of two things: 1. 2. eat at home;

Thank you for making a real meal for me.”

not, my friends. Those are not authentically south of anything past our US border. I live in Northeast Wisconsin and our students know better than that. We have started serving authentic cuisines

“Made to order” orange chicken bar

Hispanic heritage month featured meal

and the students know and love it. We’ve attracted more people who are saying one of two things: 1. This is what I eat at home; or 2. Thank you for making a real meal for me. Utilize bars You want to spice up your menu? How about trying a new layout with your salad bar or steam table line? Don’t just have spaghetti; have 2 types of pasta, 2-3 sauces, and different toppings for the kids. Put different sauces on chicken wings. We eat with our eyes first. Remember this!

Here are some of the hot tips & tricks I’ve found to get the kids in our doors:

Variety is the spice of life Especially in the older grades, offering a second, third, or even eighth choice is not only encouraged but expected. Students want the opportunity to pick what they want to eat for lunch. If they have the choice to leave campus, we need to offer them choices not to. Kids are more adventurous than you’d think Obviously, our most popular count days are things like chicken nuggets and pizza in our elementary schools, but we’ve been trying some new things that are encouraging as well: mandarin orange chicken, egg rolls, carne asada meat, etc. The most important thing is to not give up after the first menu day. Authentic food matters My pet peeve as a food service director is when we call American tacos “south of the border.” Absolutely

Salad bars & fresh fruit bars encourage taste expansion

Talk with the kids I cannot stress this enough!! How can you know what your customer base is looking for without talking to them? I eat lunch with the elementary kids about 3 times per week, and make sure to mosey around the older kids, who don’t love for you to eat lunch at their table. If they give you an idea, work hard to get it on


Show kids where their food comes from This is cool. Fork Farms, LLC sells hydroponic gardens across the country that require minimal effort and pump out some fancy greens (and cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, herbs, peppers… anything that’s not a root veggie!). Feature that baby right in your cafeteria so kids can look at it when they’re coming through your line. Then, when you serve the produce on the line, tell them exactly where it came from! Don’t be afraid to give them samples off the unit either. And have them help grow the food. Find a support group Other directors in your area are a great start! You need to bounce ideas (or frustrations) off someone. Let’s face it: we speak a different language. No one knows direct diversion, reimbursable meal, or all our acronyms like our counterparts in other districts. We have the luxury of not competing – so share your good ideas!

the menu. It’s great to go back to that school and have the kids say, “I asked you for smoothies and it was on the menu the next month!” It means a lot to them to know you’re listening. Talk with your legislator Show them pictures, videos, testimonials. You are the expert and they’re working for you. Don’t forget how important your voice is, even if you feel like you’re never being heard. As school nutrition directors, we longed for the days where we could feed all kids for free. It happened, and it was awesome! To go backwards was so disheartening, but we need to make sure we’re still informing our legislators of our needs. Beat your drum! You deserve it!

You’re going to see what’s trending as a menu concept from every food broker out there. They have great insight and great ideas! It doesn’t matter how good you think the food is, though, if your kids aren’t eating it. This year, I want the #1 trending item in your district to be the kids. What do they want? What do they deserve? How can we make them successful? Trends are ever changing, so are kids. Make them the trend you follow into the rest of your career. You’ll thank yourself later!

Hydroponic farming with the Flex Farm from Fork Farms

Learn more about Ashwaubenon School District’s journey in hydroponic farming with Fork Farms in this episode of First Taste TV.

Ready for more K12 content? Subscribe to Served Digizine today!



FM Staff Contributor

In North Carolina, the Black Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Farmer pilot program took off with the support of Compass Group North America, Foodbuy and produce distributor FreshPoint. The goal? Being more intentional with produce purchases and directing more spend towards the diverse farming community. Compass chefs made it special with beautifully seasonal menu items, and thanks to the pilot program’s success, new farms are being added and the program is still growing.

Local generational farmers on their property in North Carolina



Mike Buzalka

Baptist Health in Louisville is looking to add more healthy items to its cafeteria menu as an alternative to some perennial favorites like chicken tenders and cheeseburgers.

our culinary teams to create flavorful, healthy dishes to meet the needs of both our patients and our cafeteria guests. The skills developed has allowed us to be even more creative in our patient services.” FM: How do you promote healthier items in the cafeteria—signage? pricing? placement? Etc.? Shoopman: “We use an apple symbol on our menu screens to identify the Fresh & Fit items quickly. We also have signage posted in the cafeteria and on our webpage that describes the program in more detail (i.e. nutrient limits). Our cafeteria teams are also trained to be able to quickly describe the program to customers as well.” FM: Are the customers in the cafeteria primarily staff or visitors and do there seem to be differences in what they tend to order? Shoopman: “We have a healthy mix of both staff and visitors in our cafeterias. The facilities who have remodeled their cafeterias for a more modern restaurant-style dining experience see more visitor traffic than those who have not.”

A recent local news story announced that the cafeteria at Baptist Health Hospital in Louisville last year served cafeteria served some 127,934 orders of chicken tenders, along with 134,030 sides of French fries, 3,813 chef salads, 316,538 pieces of bacon and 39,716 Diet Mountain Dews, with the cheeseburger being the most requested item with some 56,419 served at the venue’s grills. While those selections are obviously popular for cafeteria patrons, Baptist Health has also rolled out a Fresh & Fit menu featuring healthier profile items that it will be promoting in 2023 and beyond.

Watch the local news story here

FM approached Shoopman with three questions about the hospital’s meal services and the Fresh & Fit program…

Here are the criteria Baptist Health uses to define Fresh & Fit entrees and sides:


Course Total Kcals

Total Fat

Sat. Fat

600 Sodium (mg) < _

< _

< _

< _ < _



30% 5 grams

Baptist Health recently remodeled dining space offers a modern atmosphere for customers

< _

< _

< _


3 grams




FM: What are some of the prominent selections included in the Fresh & Fit menu? Shoopman: “Many of our fish or plant-based options are included in the Fresh & Fit menu, as well as reworked homestyle favorites. Some of our most popular Fresh & Fit dishes—meat loaf and turkey with cornbread dressing—are also on our patient menu. Having the program in our retail space has challenged



Mike Buzalka

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Fairfax County Public School District in Virginia to halt a robust salad bar program but now they’re back, apparently to great acclaim by their young customers. FM approached the district’s acting assistant director, Lisa Diapoulis, with three questions about the salad bar revival… FM: What is the rollout schedule and when is it expected to be completed? Diapoulis: “The return of the school salad bars is being phased into all of our elementary schools (142) first with a completion date of May 2023. This includes 40 elementary schools who are having salad bars for the first time. They were scheduled in 2020, but due to COVID, we stopped implementing them.” FM: What operational adjustments do district cafeterias have to make to resume the salad bars (kitchen prep activities, staff reassignments, space allocation, etc.)? Diapoulis: “We have to train all students on how to use the salad bar with tongs and making appropriate portion size choices specifically choosing at minimum a ½ cup of fruit and/or vegetable per USDA OVS guidelines. Our staff need to be trained on menu offerings, food preparation, ordering and salad bar set-up. We need to work with the school-based staff, including admin and teachers for salad bar placement in the cafeterias and lunch schedules.” FM: What impact is the revival of the salad bars expected to make on the school meal program? What are the main benefits? Diapoulis: “The main benefit is the students get to choose by self-selecting using utensils such as tongs and serving spoons and their portion sizes of fresh fruits and vegetables that they would like for lunch. With the regular lunch line, students could choose one serving of fruit and two servings of vegetables, per USDA/VDOE requirements, but now it is unlimited.” After a nearly three year interruption, salad bars recently made their way back to school lunchrooms in the Fairfax County Public School District in Virginia.

Students get to make their own choices on the salad bar line.

Staff had to be trained on menu offerings, food preparation, ordering and salad bar set-up to prepare for the reintroduction.

Kids also choose their own dressings.

The salad bars have been popular with kids in the sites where they were reintroduced.

Some satisfied salad bar customers show their choices.



Mike Buzalka

Culinary students at McCracken County High School in Kentucky recently assisted the meal program in making choices for the school menu.

McCracken County High School in Kentucky found a great way to tap into what students like to eat when it had its culinary class join the foodservice team at a food show to try out new items available for the program to order for the schools and voice their opinion on what they liked. FM approached McCracken County Director of Food Services Cathy Lewis with three questions about the initiative… Local news story on the initiative complete with a video segment *(the report mistakenly suggests that the culinary students served students in the cafeteria—they did not). FM: Where did the idea come from and how many culinary students were involved? Lewis: “As a new director, coming from the restaurant world, I understand the importance of menu development and the difference in taste among youth vs adults. When the opportunity was given to allow us to bring students to a local food show, I decided that would be a great way to see what items the kids really preferred vs just our staff. The advanced culinary class at our high school seemed like a group of kids that would be perfect. Plus, as students that are interested in the culinary world, they would also benefit from seeing what all takes place in menu development in a real-world scenario. The food show introduced us to the possibility of working together with those students in a mutually beneficial relationship.” FM: What were some of the dishes created? Lewis: “While at the food show some of the students found items that were already available that they wanted to see in their cafeteria. Those items were things like Yang’s Orange Chicken and Chef One (L) The students learned about what it takes to create a k-12 approved recipe. (R) The culinary class that was involved in this program with us (about a dozen students) enjoyed the benefit of seeing in real life what menu development looks like.

Chicken and Vegetable Dumplings. But we wanted to take that one step further and have the culinary class help develop a new recipe. The students learned about what it takes to create a k-12 approved recipe and began work with us on developing a new recipe, Basil Pesto Pierogies with Chicken.” FM: What are some of the major benefits of this program to the culinary students involved, the other students at the high school who were served the dishes and the district’s school meal program? Lewis: “The culinary class that was involved in this program with us (about a dozen students) enjoyed the benefit of seeing in real life what menu development looks like. They gained the understanding of what types of regulations must be followed for school cafeterias and how they can be followed while still maintaining an appealing taste in the food. They also enjoyed the benefits of actually tasting some foods that were available and being allowed to choose which they enjoyed and wanted to see. These culinary students

also took pride in knowing they had a hand in changes made to the high school menu that other students very openly enjoyed. The other students at the high school, as well as other schools in the district now have the opportunity to try and enjoy menu items that fellow students worked on or picked out.”

The students worked with the foodservice staff on developing a new recipe, Basil Pesto Pierogies with Chicken.


WATCH WITH Looking to be inspired... or have a good laugh? Check out the selections below to see what’s trending in digital media across the industry. kqaskqp1

School menus are student-tested and approved as part of a commitment to serving student-approved menus. The District provides vendor food-testing events twice a year with student-approved food items appearing on the menus later in the year. For example, the last food-testing event occurred in November 2022 and new menu items will appear in March/April 2023. This video describes our food-testing strategy.

LA Unified School District: 100-Day Plan - Elevating School Nutrition Services watch?v=1oxaQc925DU

My new roommate Gavin and I went to every college dining hall on our campus and rated them all to answer the question: Are College Dining Halls Really that Bad?

anthpo | Are College Dining Halls Really that Bad?


Produce to plate in inches, not miles HYDROPONIC FARMING + FOODSERVICE

Innovate foodservice program with the most efficient vertical farm on the planet. Foodservice leaders across the country are controlling their supply chains and bringing the freshest greens possible to students, patients and more with Fork Farms. your

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Brandice P. Pelfrey, CMP | American Commodity Distribution Association

Did you know, if managed correctly, entitlement funds can provide for up to 20% of your food budget? What are Entitlement Funds? Entitlement funds are provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) per CFR 250.56. Every year in July, Food Nutrition Services (FNS) publishes the Per-Meal Rate according to this Federal Regulation. This and the total lunches your district serves within the school year determine how much entitlement the school receives to spend on USDA Foods. Entitlement can be used to purchase USDA Foods to be delivered to the school throughout the year to supplement the cost of the food budget. Entitlement is funding to purchase USDA Foods; it is not actual money. Entitlement is the amount that the State Agency is authorized to spend on USDA Foods and that value is expected to be utilized in the school year in which the dollars are spent. The State can spend it through three programs: Direct Delivery, DoD Fresh, and Processing, using a demand driven process. What is the role of the State Agency? The State Agency makes decisions on how this program is run in their state according to Federal Regulations as well as State Regulations and Policies. Every State Agency has worked with their schools to find a way to run programs the best they see fit. Federal Regulations allow states the authority to make some decisions that may be different than other states. Some State Agencies may require you to use all your entitlement during the first ordering time of the year, whereas others have a few rounds of ordering during the school year. This could be because of their size and capacity and having to share truckloads with other states. Each State Agency is working toward the goal of using all the entitlement in the best way possible with the knowledge they have for their specific state. They also must ensure that all of the USDA Foods they bring in actually get delivered to the school and used in a


commercially, you may be able to replace with an end item containing USDA Foods – and then you can receive a credit from your distributor. • Strive to divert what you will use and use what you divert. The American Commodity Distribution Association (ACDA) is a non-profit professional association devoted to the improvement of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) commodity distribution system through education and collaboration. ACDA members include association agencies that distribute USDA Foods; agricultural organizations; recipient agencies, such as schools; industry groups, such as food manufacturers and processors; and allied organizations, such as non-profit anti-hunger groups. To learn more about maximizing your commodity dollars and other USDA Food programs, visit our website at www. and join us for the ACDA Annual Conference, April 16-19, 2023 in Anaheim, California.

reasonable amount of time. This is a juggling act for all states. If you have questions or comments for your State Agency, you can contact them and have a discussion as to how the program is run in your state. If your State Agency has an advisory committee, consider participating on that committee to help advise them on the USDA Foods Programs. Ideas you can consider to maximize the use of your funds: • Plan your menus for the year. • Refer to the USDA Foods Available List for SY23-24. • Review your menus comparing it to the foods available from your State Agency. • Plan to use USDA Foods for items you are already using in your menus. • Based on your District’s history and future menu requirements, determine your entitlement spend for DoD, Direct Delivery, and Processing. • Consider using the DoD Fresh program to find locally grown products. • Direct Delivered end items may work well for your menus. • Processing USDA Foods allows you to receive credits on products you already buy commercially. For example, if you purchase chicken nuggets


Great Spaces

In this edition of Great Spaces we are highlighting the Summer House bar located in the Orlando International Airport. Do you know of a great space to highlight? Send photos and information to to potentially be featured in Food Management. Summer House

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