By Aleya Harris
With awareness of allergies, food intolerance, and dining preferences greater than ever, employee meal programs are finding new and creative ways to provide an incredible experience for all their staff. Organizations who step up to the challenge, such as Syracuse University, who provides gluten free chicken nuggets and mac ‘n cheese, are keeping diners happy and their food programs shine as a result.
As many as 1 in 3 Americans face dietary restrictions in some manner, including health and religious reasons. On the flip side, many of today’s eaters have expanded palates, so they want more diversity in their foods. Successful meal programs can meet a range of needs from gluten free to keto friendly, on short notice.
With a little innovation and forethought, you can help your dining program build in choices that meet or exceed expectations.
Accommodate Dining Restrictions Through Planning
In another example of how we could learn a few things from our schools, Brown University is leading the way in this field by having students to log into a program that allows them to record their food allergies to help their cafeteria stay ahead of the curve.
A more practical strategy for a corporate cafeteria may be polling the employees themselves. Employees may even enjoy the opportunity to express their views and preferences. Of course, it is all confidential, but by opening a direct dialogue with employees, you can determine a winning direction in which to take your meal program.
In another example of how we could learn a few things from our schools, Brown University is leading the way in this field by having students to log into a program that allows them to record their food allergies.
Introduce Build Your Own Options
How do you keep costs down while maintaining flexibility in meal choices? Build your own options provide a solution that is sure to be a hit with everyone.
Taking into account your staff’s preferences, you can offer “build your own” options, with a range of ingredients so employees can pick and choose according to their tastes. The great thing about this is that you can make this work with only couple carefully crafted “base” options, making things simple and much more cost efficient. Take a burrito lunch for example: You can have plain tortillas, wheat tortillas, and bowl options all on the same prep line. Of course you can take this further and offer meat as well as veggie choices for the toppings. This can be done for a whole slew of options, such as pizza, rice bowls, sandwiches and so on.
Dining restrictions and preferences provide the opportunity for a wide variety of changes to meal programs. The organizations that figures out creative ways to provide all-inclusive dining have an upper hand when it comes to their branding and employee retention. Successful meal program management is all about innovation in choices, pre-planning, and wowing all your diners.