Café Services Transforms Business Dining At Connecticut Corporate Food Service Facility
GE Employees Enjoy Healthier, More Creative Cuisine Made-to-Order by Café Services
Before Café Services transformed corporate food service at Connecticut based GE Industrial Solutions near Hartford, the company of over 300 employees was at a crossroads. Diners, a combination of white collar and manufacturing professionals, were limited to a meager selection of bland, pre-made meals. Management lacked the prompt, personalized support it needed to improve efficiency, encourage participation and take its GE-wide employee wellness initiative to the next level.
Café Services offered an approach that other Connecticut corporate food service companies didn’t: Customized, restaurant-quality corporate dining that catered to a variety of tastes and was responsive to the company’s focus on health, creative cuisine, employee participation and community stewardship.
Giving Corporate Dining A Worldly Allure
When Café Services joined GE Industrial Solutions in April 2011, one of its first responsibilities was making corporate dining more alluring by featuring different ethnic cuisines on the menu, every day. “I was thrilled to get that request,” says Café Services Chef Manager, Charlotte. “Creative cooking is not only one of my specialties, it’s a passion. Unlike other Connecticut corporate food service companies, Café Services gives me the freedom to design my own menus. We’re not a cookie cutter company.”
Promoting Employee Health & Wellness
Drawing diners to the cafeteria was part of a broader, GE-wide effort to promote employee health and wellness through the company’s Health Ahead program. GE gave Café Services six months to fully implement the program, requiring that by the end of the conversion period, at least 50% of the café offerings meet Health Ahead nutritional criteria. On a daily basis, Café Services would also be responsible for posting nutritional analyses of food served in clear view of employees.
Motivating the over 150 employees who lunched in the cafeteria every day to embrace Health Ahead was a fun challenge for Charlotte. She helped GE encourage participation with an incentive program that rewarded employees with a free meal for every four healthy meals purchased.
To debunk the perception of many diners that healthy food tastes worse than traditional fare, Charlotte drew from the Café Services Fit Picks wellness program to create menus that not only tasted great, but also were nutritious and moderate in saturated fat. She organized themed tasting events at lunch to build excitement in the café. The tastings gave diners opportunities to sample healthy foods prepared in different, creative ways—like quinoa in soups and salads; or ground flax seeds in breakfast crisps or crumb topping on a low-fat muffin.
A Winner All-Around: Café Services Corporate Food Service
Today, the Café Services corporate food service program at GE Industrial Solutions is a tremendous success. Diners love the creative menu choices and come to Charlotte for cooking and food shopping tips. Management values the flexibility of Café Services to support ALL its food service initiatives—from company picnics to catering fundraisers and charity events at schools and in the community.
As for Health Ahead, it’s firmly entrenched in the GE Industrial Solutions culture. And the company has achieved Health Ahead certification for successfully meeting all the program’s nutrition standards.