Whole Grain Challenge Winners Named

Six onsite dining operations were among the 10 winners of the third annual Whole Grains Challenge competition authored by the Whole Grains Council to promote the use of whole grains in foodservice. Roger Williams University, East Carolina Heart Insitute and Café Target were named winners in the college/university, healthcare and workplace dining categories, respectively, while South Duxbury (VT) Schools, Muskegon (MI) Schools and New York City Schools won the small, medium and large school categories, respectively.

The Council scoured the country to find foodservice operators that served at least one whole grain option daily, and then awarded extra points to those augmenting their dishes with creative educational promotions about whole grains. Here are the Council’s remarks concerning each onsite category winner:

Roger Williams University: “In addition to making whole grains standard at every culinary station in both the Upper Commons and Baypoint Café locations, Bon Appetit Management Company keeps students at Roger Williams University well-fueled with a plethora of daily whole grain specials as well.

East Carolina Health: “Whole grains have been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease, improve the health of carotid arteries, and help maintain healthier blood pressure levels, so it’s no surprise that they appear in almost every menu option served by ECHI Café at East Carolina Heart Institute in Greenville, NC, where the foodservice is run by Aramark.”

Café Target: “From the massive bowls of whole grains at the salad bar and special Target Wellness Wednesday menus, to table tents and full-page signs touting the full flavor of whole grains. Café Target at Target headquarters in Minneapolis wowed us with their entry. In addition to their Food For Your Well Being week-long healthy food promotion (featuring whole grains, in September, for Whole Grains Month), Bon Appetit’s management of Café Target included a month-long whole grains theme (also in September) and October menu specials such as buckwheat pancakes, free-range turkey and barley burgers, vegetable beef soup with faro, and toasted coconut-banana-cashew brown basmati rice.”

South Duxbury Schools: “Harwood Union High School has been making many changes in the past few years, none the least of which has been serving more whole grain options to their seventh- to twelfth-grade students. Daily offerings include local farm-fresh eggs and chicken, apples from area orchards, and homemade whole grain breads, cookies, and muffins.”

Muskegon Schools: “Students at the Orchard View Schools have a reason to look forward to school this year, namely the district’s new – and completely free – breakfast program, featuring whole grains every day. Students and parents were educated about this new program and the importance of including whole grains at breakfast, and enjoyed an open house event where samples of whole grain products were given to all attendees. To keep their kids interested and engaged in healthy eating, Orchard View used health classes as a way to teach the importance of whole grains and health. Not only did whole grains appear on every school menu, samples of different whole grain products were also given out and students voted for their favorites.”

New York City Schools: “Serving an average of 860,000 meals per day, SchoolFood for New York City schools might have the toughest job going. Featuring whole grains is one way they stretch their budget dollars while providing healthier options for up to 15 unique menus each month. From breakfast to lunch, in snacks and on Saturdays, SchoolFood makes sure students in the City that Never Sleeps at least have the whole grain energy to keep up with the hustle and bustle.”

In addition to the above, three other school systems were cited as runners-up and honorable mentions…

Small School: Willamina (OR) School District (runner-up), Amesbury (MA) Public Schools (honorable mention);

Medium School: Weston (CT) Public Schools (runner-up), De Soto (MO) Public Schools (honorable mention);

Large School: Winston-Salem/Fortsyth County (NC) Schools (runner-up), Shelby County (AL) Schools (honorable mention).