Vegetarian Journal's Foodservice Update
Healthy Tips and Recipes for Institutions
Volume VIII, Number 2 Spring 2000
Veggie is cost-effective! At Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California,
the food service department has found that not only are vegetarian menu items
healthier but are also more cost-effective. After making cost
comparisonssuch as meat versus vegetable lasagnait was found
that the veggie item cost the same or even less. Other cost-effective veggie
items on the Medical Center menu include veggie pizzas with tomato and broccoli,
lentil chili with cornbread, and an eight-foot long salad bar. Hackettstown
(New Jersey) Community Hospital also has seen the popularity and the
cost-effectiveness of veggie items. Some of the more popular menu items include
a mock crabcake made with a veggie-burger mix and horseradish, chopped fresh
parsley, chopped bell peppers, Old Bay seafood seasoning, and bread crumbs.
It is then dipped in flour and grilled or deep-fried and served as a sandwich
or paired with beans, lentils, pasta, and steamed or sautéed vegetables.
The hospital also serves a grilled portabello mushroom on a hero roll layered
with greens, smoked tomatoes, and roasted bell peppers, as well as a broccoli
rice casserole, rigatoni with nutballs, and veggie pizza.
Many food service people are finding that their non-veggie customers are
doing a lot of "crossing over" to vegetarian selections. To accommodate them,
many operations are offering more menued veggie items and labeling self-serve
items. For example, business and industry accounts, such as Forbes Magazine
and MSC Industrials (both in New York) are offering veggie dishes such as
tofu stroganoff, Maryland-style tofu cakes, peanut stew, and barbecued seitan
cutlets on their main menus. Their self-service grills are set up in three
sections, one for vegan, one for vegetarians, and one for omnivores. Cooking
and serving utensils are kept separate and are clearly labeled, as are the
ingredients. At Credit Suisse First Bostons food services, employees
can find at least one veggie dish at each food station. Five out of nine
selections on the salad bar are veggie, including marinated tempeh, soy products,
and steamed vegetables. Chefs say that the veggie selections are very
popularsometimes more popular than the "regular" selections!
The Boulder (Colorado) School District is taking a bold step by participating
in a pilot program offering natural and organic snacks and finger foods on
its secondary school a la carte menu. The program, called "Healthy Children,
Healthy Planet School Profitability and Marketing Study for Natural and Organic
Foods" is designed to help schools offer profitable natural and organic products.
All products will be free of preservatives, chemicals, and dyes and will
be obtained through natural foods distributors. Vegan items will include
veggie burgers and hot dogs and snacks, containing grains, nuts, and soy.
Companies participating include Small Planet Foods, Cascadian Farms, Fantastic
Foods, Imagine Foods, and SunRidge Foods. Students will be involved through
the Natural Youth Council, a volunteer committee. This pilot was preceded
by an educational campaign, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, to promote
healthy and natural eating in schools. For information about this program,
go to www.spiritinaction.org.
Everybodys doing it! Todays Health, Blue Cross of
Californias consumer magazine, dedicated its entire Food and Nutrition
Segment (Summer 1999) to "Going Vegetarian." The article outlined the health
benefits of vegetarian living and gave extensive information on preparing
veggie foods at home and tips on dining out. Blue Cross-San Francisco employee
food services offers many veggie items, and Blue Cross dietitians will counsel
employees and subscribers on veggie eating.
Students do have a say. Portland State University (Oregon) has recently revamped
its food service offerings, largely due to student request. The Aramark-run
food services has moved toward an "organic approach," adding organic flour-crust
pizza (with vegan toppings available), vegan wraps made with organic produce,
and vegan items available at the Asian stations (the noodle grill sounds
great!), and the big-bowl entrée station. According to the director
of food services, Damien McGoldrick, the make-up of the student population
and patrons requests sparked the food service redesign.
Excerpts from the Spring 2000
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