Patty Ziegenhorn: So in the relationship it begins with the RFP, the request for proposal, so hopefully you all will have some help and input in defining all the requirements for the food service operation for your request for proposal. They have, as I said in number 3, the contractor has many resources available that can be utilized. They just kind of touched on that. There are many databases in their menu management system. And, of course, always get to know your local representatives of the major brands. They’re always wanting to come in and do tastings. Even though it may go through Sysco or it may go through U.S. Foods or it may go through a broker, they want you to taste their products. Writing correct food specifications is key when awarding for a food purchasing contract. She was talking about Sysco; she was talking about U.S. Foods. It starts at the purchasing level, and if you’re in a self-op where you don’t have a contract company, I put some references and resources in the slides too. But this book comes out and it’s food specifications and it was free through Food Service Management Magazine. So, familiarize yourself with food specifications and talking the same language. Evan Christou: We’re becoming known in the industry as a GPO, a group purchasing organization, founded in 1992. Our main purpose is to negotiate pricing and programs for all food service needs based on our collective volume. In other words, what that allows us to do is maybe not at their level, but purchase a Canteen or a Compass or Sodexo or an Aramark. At least it gives us what’s known in the industry as some sort of national account status. And that’s important in today’s world because our purpose is to save money for our member restaurants. Vendors and suppliers will, quite frankly, stock anything that sells. Warehouse space is very valuable and it has to be allocated based on volume internally. With this initiative it’s important to pool our resources and our needs. The relationship with the vendor is actually twofold. I think first it’s important to identify what items the vendor or supplier might already have in stock. And it’s important to also encourage your restaurateurs if they’re not involved with a GPO to get to know how their vendor works and how they purchase. Reputable manufacturers are always willing to provide restaurant samples. Even if you don’t do enough of a volume for them to stock it for you, you do have options. And just take it on their next delivery, thus avoiding a special order cost, because when you get into special orders, they’re going to mark up 20 or 30 percent in addition. And secondly, this is where the combined volume of our restaurants in our cooperative comes into play. As we identified items that meet this initiative and still stay within our quality standards and specs, we will create the demand for certain items and motivate our suppliers to stock those items. We put in our RFP a stipulation that if as a group we can purchase five cases a week of a product, not one restaurant, but out of the 125, if the total purchasing volume of product X is five cases a week, they will slot it for us. Many of us in the restaurant industry also have friends and neighbors who are also in the industry and are facing the same challenges when it comes to cost. I would suggest to restaurants and hotels to identify their common needs and combine their volumes. Volume is your best tool in negotiating price with a vendor. If you’re not sure what your exact volume is on your products or if the restaurant you’re working with want to consolidate the list of what you buy in order to do an analysis of sodium content, you can ask your vendor for what they call the “descending case report.” Volume’s going to drive it, and this is the one fear as we move forward with some of these initiatives. Just like, with the green initiative. If you get a more green takeout container, they gouge you. I’d like to see a deviation. And if it is a health care facility, if there’s enough volume, you can ask the manufacturer, even just for that individual location, a price deviation. Christou: After getting the restaurants on board, I think the other important piece to this puzzle is how do we get the consumer to embrace this initiative. And there are two components to this, and I believe that’s education and marketing. This is a community project, folks, and you need the community behind you. As the consumer becomes more educated, this transition to the reduction of sodium will be embraced and should be seamless. As our agencies and organizations educate the consumer, they will be able to market those of us who are making efforts to create a healthier menu. Most of the things, and as our menus have grown and as our menus have evolved and as we put more salads on the menus, leaving sodium aside, even the other healthier things that we’ve done, eliminating many of the fried items and coming to grilled and broiled items, it’s all driven by consumer demand :volume, just like on the purchasing end, demand from the consumer is going to drive what’s on our menus. Ziegenhorn: Okay, let’s get into effective editing of recipes to achieve healthier options. If you’re not cooking from scratch and you don’t have the labor, it’s hard to edit and do scratch recipes. You may have to find pre-prepared products that meet that segment that you’re trying to achieve. So you can use prepared foods and scratch in the same recipes to achieve healthier options just like I said, a low sodium soup base with a regular soup recipe. Christou: And then you try to match up a product that’s going to be able to create that same recipe without altering the taste your customers are used to.