Case Studies • UMASS
University of Massachusetts, Amherst — Providing Healthier Options
At the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, the dining services team grade themselves on creating cravable experiences and making student health a priority. Kenneth Toong, Director of Dining Services, is constantly seeking ways to improve the nutritional and flavor profiles of the 4,000 recipes in his six campus dining establishments. Making the switch to Omega-9 Oils was an “A” move in his book.
In 2008, he reviewed research from the Harvard School of Public Health that stated 120,000 to 228,000 heart attacks could be averted each year by reducing trans fats in the diet. As a result, Toong began looking for ways to reduce or eliminate trans fat from University of Massachusetts’ menus. With a health profile including zero trans fat, the lowest amount of saturated fats and high monounsaturated fats, Omega-9 Oils provided Toong and his team the ideal healthier oil solution.
“Food business is a dynamic business and every day is different. With over 14,000 students on the meal plan — many of them eating with us several times a day,” said Toong. “We need to have great food, that’s also good for them.”
According to Toong, Omega-9 Oils have gone straight to the head of the class. “We have an obligation to our students to provide them with a variety of healthy, flavorful foods. Switching to Omega-9 Oils helped us to do just that.”
v Making the Switch
“We conducted on-site testing for six months and found Omega-9 Oils was not only a healthier solution, but a cost-effective solution as well,” said Toong. “Omega-9 Oils could be used for four days longer than our previous oil, before being replenished.” By not using labor to change and remove oil as often, members of Toong’s culinary team could spend more time developing and preparing complex and innovative recipes.
In addition to testing fry life, the Omega-9 Oils team helped Ken Toong’s team make a seamless switch by providing tools and operational training to the dining staff on how to realize the best performance and taste from the oil. According to Toong, “We switched all dining locations to Omega-9 Oils at the same time. It was important for us to have consistent, high-quality products throughout the campus.”
Toong and his team worked with student ambassador groups and developed onsite signage, newsletters and blog articles to educate students about trans fat and the University of Massachusetts’ decision to eliminate trans fat-laden oil from school menus as part of their “Stealth Health” program. Both students and employees were enthusiastic about the switch. “Our employees are eager to offer healthier options to students, “said Toong. “It gives us all a sense of pride.”
> Healthier Meals... and More of Them
Since its switch to Omega-9 Oils, the University of Massachusetts has seen increases in the number of meals sold, customers and meals served per case of oil.
- Customer count increased by 23,760 people
- Meals served increased almost 9% or by 150,000 meals
- Oil used per meal decreased almost 18%
- Oil usage went down 10% resulting in significant cost savings
Since using Omega-9 Oils, the University of Massachusetts dining team has incorporated the oil into its concepts throughout the campus. Although it’s used in various applications, the University of Massachusetts’ culinary team primarily uses Omega-9 Oils for frying and grilling applications — providing students with familiar, comfort foods they crave, but without the bad fats.