VEGETARIAN JOURNAL'S FOODSERVICE UPDATE

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Vegetarian Journal's Foodservice Update
Healthy Tips and Recipes for Institutions

Volume VIII, Number 2 Spring 2000  

VEGAN TIDBITS

  1. 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 comparisons—such as meat versus vegetable lasagna—it 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.

  2. 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 Boston’s 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 popular—sometimes more popular than the "regular" selections!

  3. 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.

  4. Everybody’s doing it! Today’s Health, Blue Cross of California’s 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.

  5. 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 Issue:


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April 24, 2000

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