Fast Food Redefined

Fast Food Redefined

Beth Bauters, RD
Retail Manager
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
Iowa City, IA

Grab'n Go, Sodexho Style

Grab'n Go, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

"Grab 'n go accounts for a significant part of our retail business. In our nine retail areas we carry everything from pre-packaged snack items, and bottle beverages, to sliced apples, and carrot and celery sticks with dip.

"One of our more popular items is the chips and salsa pack. We put tortilla chips in a clear plastic container with some pico di gallo salsa that we make ourselves. Customers enjoy the visibility of the product. We also sell our carrots, celery and apples in a similar clear container.

"The professional staff tends towards the grab 'n go sandwiches. We often see them grab a sandwich in the morning and then eat it later in the day. Our night supper, which is predominantly third shift staff, tends to be the most popular for grab 'n go items.

"I think one of the keys to maintaining the success of grab 'n go is offering consistent variety and fresh products. We like new things in our c-stores on a trial-and-error basis. Sometimes a new product is really successful, sometimes it's not. Like bottled beverages, for example. We used to only offer fountain drinks.

Then, as a trial, we introduced bottles. Our customers were thrilled, and the drinks were flying off the shelves. The bottles make it very quick for them.

"It seems that by replacing unsuccessful products-with new and different items that cover a variety of meal parts, we are able to build our customer base."

Bill Mitchell
Director of National Program
Development for Corporate Services
Sodexho USA

We developed our grab 'n go snacks using a category management approach, says Mitchell (Category Management is a distributor/supplier process of managing categories as strategic business units, focusing on velocity and margin management while delivering consumer value.)

"We developed co-branded snack racks with a variety of top selling snacks from different brands on one central merchandiser. Customers appreciate the choice so much that we've seen snack item sales grow significantly.

"Along with the central snack rack concept, we offer a line of grab 'n go items dubbed Simply to Go. This concept offers more healthful items that focus on portion control, and consist of granola bars, baked chips, fruits and vegetables.

"One of our more unique grab 'n go items is the to-go grapes. Grapes are a simple and potable fruit that tastes good, is healthful and isn't messy. We also offer cut fruit by itself, usually whatever is in season. We do anything from pineapple, to strawberry, to melon, to peaches and even mango. We make fruit and yogurt parfaits and vegetable cruditès. Both are quite popular. We package the cruditès in clear containers with a fat-free dip.

"It seems that today's customers are so busy that they don't have the time to think about the foods they choose, yet everyone wants to eat more healthfully. Grab 'n go snacks, especially the more healthful ones, lend themselves nicely to this type of customer."

Glyen Holmes
New North Florida Co-op
Marianna, FL

"About two and a half years ago, we started selling sweet potato sticks to local Alabama schools as part of a farm-to-cafeteria program.

"Having grown up in the South, I'm used to eating sweet potatoes frequently. We used to put them in the smokehouse with the corn and the meats. They'd keep in there for a year. Whenever we were hungry, we'd just grab a sweet potato.

"It helps that the sweet potato is quite nutritious. It only contains 141 calories, is rich in vitamin A, and provides 42 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C, 6 percent of the RDA for calcium, 10 percent of the RDA for iron, and 8 percent of the RDA for thiamin. It is low in sodium and is a good source of fiber.

"The sweet potato sticks come in a five pound vacuum-sealed bag. They take eight to ten minutes to steam. They also work really well as a dipping stick or a grab 'n go item.

"The kids enjoy them because they are kind of a unique nontraditional school vegetable. I know many FSD's who are replacing carrot sticks with sweet potato sticks. They are time-efficient and cost-effective."