The last session of the 2011 IDEAS Conference offered a cross-segment panel of presenters discussing healthful dining. It was facilitated by FM Chief Editor John Lawn and Mary Kimbrough, principal at Culinary Nutrition Associates, who gave a brief opening presentation about her consultancy's work with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to improve the healthfulness of the menu on one of the firm's ships, a task that had to balance practical considerations like shipboard resources with customer expectations about what dining on a luxury cruise line is supposed to be like.
David Riddle, executive director of dining services at Texas A&M University, said small changes like mixing whole and cut fruit in with sweets at the dessert counter resulted in a 30% increase in fresh fruit consumption. “If you feature it where they go, they will eat healthier,” he said.
Celia Krazit, nutrition services director at Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas, talked about designing viable RFP criteria for a more healthful QSR to serve staff and visitors. “We kept them pretty liberal to ensure responses,” Krazit noted. She said the “winner” was the one that offered both the best potential revenue return to the hospital and was the one most willing to make further modifications to its menu.
Laura Lozano, global dining/amenities manager for Dell Global Workplace & Environments, discussed the Well at Dell healthful dining program, which has to accommodate populations in different parts of the world. “We have to accommodate customers in developed regions like the U.S. as well as places like India, where the check average is 90 cents,” Lozano noted.
Finally, Todd Coutee, senior VP of Luby's Fuddruckers, LLC, discussed transitioning the Luby's menu to onsite environments like healthcare. “Luby's had a well-known brand that was associated with items that didn't meet the healthful dining needs of those environments.” The chain approached the problem by adjusting ingredients and cooking methods, using items like brown rice instead of white and olive oil instead of butter, and oven frying certain items instead of the traditional deep fat frying, to provide a more healthful profile without radically changing dishes customers liked.