Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bringing Healthy Meals and Sustainability to Food Service

For far too long, the operators of company and campus dining services have focused on the popularity of the foods they offer, with no concern for their nutritional value," says Angela Phelan, senior vice president of Clarion Group. "Now it's time to reverse that trend. Customers are asking for better, healthier foods and expect their at-work or on-campus cafes will provide it."
Under the new federal health care legislation, all food service operators of 20 or more locations will be required to post calorie counts next to food items on their menus. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will determine whether more information will be required.

Operators also must make written data about dishes' nutritional content available to diners on request. The U.S. Food and Drung Administration is empowered to determine whether the information was developed "on a reasonable basis." The requirements will be expanded in the future, Ms Phelan predicts.

The increasing demand for healthier foods dovetails with the need to improve the sustainability of our environment, according to Ms Phelan. "The use of fresh, organic foods, grown locally, and efficient food preparation and operating practices are key elements of an effective sustainability program, she said.

Clarion Group's
Fresh & Natural program may be a solution for companies and institutions seeking to improve the value of their on-site food services. The program was developed by Clarion Group under Ms Phelan's leadership to constructively respond to these issues for on-site food service operations. The program includes imaginative, nutritious meals prepared "from scratch" using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients; elimination of junk foods; promotion of nutrition information and education, complementing the company's or college's own wellness initiatives.

The Fresh & Natural approach includes enhancing sustainability and reducing operating costs by incorporating efficient operating practices; employing energy-efficient "Energy Star" equipment; conservation of utilities, water and energy, and waste reduction through recycling, pulping, composting and other ecologically-beneficial practices.

Fresh & Natural currently is in development or under discussion at three Clarion clients, Ms Phelan reports.