| LIGHT ON THE CALORIES, HOLD THE CARBS. Aramark's Just4U menu allows customers to find meal choices that fit their diets quickly. |
The diet landscape has become increasingly confusingas consumers choose among a range of regimens from lowfat to high-protein. As a consequence, those running onsite cafes increasingly are being asked to provide dishes consistent with each of these diets, along with the nutritional information consumers need to make meal choices.
Recently, two of the country's largest foodservice contract management companies have done just that, unveiling menu programs that emphasize meal options suitable for a variety of popular diet regimens.
Aramark Corp.'s program, Just4U, offers 600 new meal options under designations like “Carb Counter,” “Low Fat” and “Heart Healthy” for clients in healthcare, B&I and higher education. Currently, 18 are participating in a pilot program with wider roll-out scheduled for this fall, the company says.
Sodexho, Inc.'s healthy menu program, “Your Health Your Way,” is a collection of menus and meals for the business dining segment designed to fit diet regimens such as low-fat, lowcholesteroland low-carb. Developedby the company's dietitiansand executive chefs, “Your Health Your Way” recently debuted in the Blues CafÈ at Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Des Moines, IA, and is now available to more than 1,300 B&I client locations.
Each “Your Health, Your Way” meal derives less than 30 percent of its calories from fat, contains no more than three grams of saturated fat, has under 100 mg of cholesterol and 1000 mg of sodium, has fewer than 600 calories and contains at least three grams of fiber. Some selections qualify as being lower in fat, low in cholesterol, or consistent with a low-carbohydrate diet, while others may be high in fiber or a good source of certain essential vitamins and minerals, the company says.
“With increasing numbers of customers following Atkins, South Beach and various other diets, we needed to arm our general managers with tools to answer customer requests,” says Tom Mulligan, president of Sodexho's Corporate services Division.
Just4U, meanwhile, features easy-to-understand nutrition information and bold menu identifiersto make it easier for diners to find the foods that fit their eating preferences.
The new menu program is based on research Aramark conducted over the past year. Called DiningStyles, it identified six distinct customer profiles, or “Dining Styles,” and the goal was to create new items and nutritional information that would match each customer's unique DiningStyle (see sidebar on p. 12).
Using these profiles, Aramark then examined the diet preferences of its customers in each of its locations and developed a proprietary menu software tool to enables chefs and on-site managers to create a Just4U menu mix that matches the DiningStyle preferences of customers at each individual location.
“Our customers have issued a cry for help,” said Chris Malone, Senior Vice President of Marketing. “They accept responsibility for their choices, but are challenged by conflicting time demands and nutritional priorities everyday.