VEGETARIAN JOURNAL'S FOODSERVICE UPDATE

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

Volume VII, Number 4 Autumn 1999  

WHAT'S UP ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES?

Led by student demand, the quest for profits, or other reasons, more and more college and university food services are bringing vegetarian offerings up front and center. What used to be an afterthought or unattractive offering, vegetarian and vegan menus are up on the main line and becoming a regular part of academic menus.

Fine Host Corporation is a foodservice contract management company with over 900 noncommercial (schools, healthcare, etc.) accounts in the USA. Fine Host has had more and more requests for vegetarian menus, especially on campuses.

Vegetarian Table is Fine Host's response to the vegetarian requests. Designed to fit the needs of every type of vegetarian, it allows individual accounts to tailor menus to the account's clientele. The idea behind Vegetarian Table is to offer nutritionally sound, visually appealing items that happen to be vegetarian, such as chili or pasta. Still in the evolving stage, Fine Host offers veggie burgers on the grill and meatless alternatives at the stir-fry station, with most veggie items prepared to order. This eliminates waste from overproduction and guarantees fresh, flavorful food.

Au Naturel is the new vegetarian station in the dining area of Pomona College in Claremont, California. The menu is a fifty-fifty mix of vegetarian and vegan items. The school's survey showed that 15-20% of the dining population are vegetarian, with 10% of them being vegan. The school hopes to generate $3 million dollars annually with the new station. Au Naturel cost the school $1300 to introduce and replace some serving equipment.

Since its introduction in February, 1999, Au Naturel has served 200 students a day, generating $1500. Menu items lean towards ethnic, largely Indian cuisine. Entrées are both hot and cold, with a daily special. All food is prepared exhibition style, using induction burners.

Menu items range form Indian pilaf to spicy Spanish potatoes with green beans and sprouts to a pita bread stuffed with sautéed veggies, potatoes, and peanuts. Au Naturel's slogan is "100% vegetarian, 100% goodness."

At the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington, the vegetarian and vegan offerings are interspersed around the entire food court area. There is one vegan-dedicated station, Vegan and Company, and then meatless items are offered at most other stations.

The 2800 student campus boasts approximately a 15% vegetarian population, but the foodservice director's idea is to appeal to everyone with vegetarian offerings. After several semesters, sales are up 20-30%, and the vegan area's business is quite strong.

Vegan and Company offers pasta, polenta, grains, legumes, and stuffed peppers. Other stations incorporate veggie offerings. The Grill offers Gardenburgers and sandwiches made with Field Roast (a solid gluten product which can be cut and grilled). Salads, pasta, and pizza are available at Tomassito's and veggie stir-frys are offered at The Pacific Rim. Casa Ortega always has tortilla-based veggie specialties and Full Fare (comfort foods and traditional American foods) offers vegetarian lasagna, mashed potatoes, and other meatless items.

"Nowadays, everyone is looking for food which is flavorful and interesting, not just vegetarians," said Steven Davis, foodservice director, "so that makes it easy. We just try to appeal to everyone, using different ingredients."

At California State University, San Bernardino, the mostly commuter population and its 420 resident students have made strong requests for ethnic and vegetarian food. The Grill, the most popular food station at CSU-SB, has had great success with a commercially-made veggie burger with the main ingredient of portabello mushrooms. The Gardenburger is running a close second. The portabello burger is popular with most students, veggie and non-veggie. To spice up the offering, there are five different toppings offered, including tomato salsa, tomatillo salsa, pico de gallo (a blend of fresh and dried ingredients), jalapeno/carrot/onion mix, and guacamole.

Among the largely Hispanic population, tofu is gaining popularity. It is offered on the salad bar, used for pasta, burritos, and tacos, and in casseroles.

At the resident dining halls at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, diners can select the serving line dedicated to meatless daily specials. Still in its infancy, Johns Hopkins' vegetarian program offers a daily vegetarian entrée and several side dishes. Students can participate in a special vegetarian advisory board committee, which works closely with the Health and Wellness Department.

Slowly but surely vegetarian items are being offered on campuses. A newly opened snack bar/ convenience store, MegaBITES, includes frozen vegetarian items and snacks. These are but a few of the programs nationwide that are incorporating veggie offerings into their menus. What are you doing? Let's hear from you!


Excerpts from the Autumn 1999 Issue:


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Converted to HTML by Stephanie Schueler.



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October 11, 1999

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