Dining Services D2 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, earned the title of Grand Winner in the 2007 Whole Grains Challenge, with a creative and far-reaching campaign to introduce its students to whole grains.

Colonel Grain Enlists Whole Grain Lovers

Virginia Tech’s campaign centered around Colonel Grain (pictured at right), a whimsical cartoon character featured in posters and flyers around the campus and throughout the dining hall. The Colonel was a product of brainstorming sessions among the chefs, bakers, dietitian, managers, administration and marketing staff involved with the dining hall.

Prior to the challenge, several students had been asking where they could find more whole grain selections. The Whole Grains Challenge contest gave D2 the opportunity not only to offer more whole grains for a month or two, but to take it a step further.

Two Dozen Whole Grain Choices Daily

Starting with a base of several whole grain items already on the menu, Virginia Tech D2 altered some existing recipes to incorporate whole grains, and created more than 20 completely new and original recipes such as Spaghetti Bolognese and Buckwheat Pancakes. Twenty-five new ingredients were brought in for the challenge, including bulgur, quinoa, amaranth flour, and spelt berries.

D2 features eight international “shops,” each of which featured whole grain selections according to its specialty. Mangia!, which serves Italian favorites, offered up whole wheat pizza and pasta. Salsas, the Mexican shop, offered a variety of whole grain taco bowls, rice and burritos. La Pâtisserie, which features desserts, offered a variety of fruit cobblers with whole grain topping. At each shop, guests could find new and exciting whole grain dishes to satisfy even the pickiest eaters.

As a result, more than two dozen whole grain options were offered almost every day. Special action stations were also integrated, including a “make your own” granola station and another featuring whole grain crepes with various fillings and toppings. Most of the new ingredients and recipes will continue to be used in D2’s regular menu cycle.

Feedback For Favorite Foods

D2 staff provided feedback cards to diners – students, faculty, staff members, and summer conference guests – to garner their opinions on the various dishes. The cards asked whether diners would choose that dish again, and whether the dish should be featured permanently on the menu.

As an added incentive, current students were entered for a chance to win a bicycle when they submitted their feedback cards for the month of June.

Other Whole Grains Challenge Winners

While Virginia Tech was the Grand Winner (and University category winner) in the Whole Grains Challenge, nine other food outlets took top honors in other categories.

Category Winners
Quick Serve Restaurant Jersey Mike’s for submarine sandwich rolls containing a full serving or more of whole grain.
Casual / Family Restaurant PF Chang’s China Bistro and Pei Wei Asian Diner, for serving 10,000,000 pounds of brown rice last year – 45% of their diners choose brown rice!
Fine Dining Café Modern, at the Modern Art Museum of Ft.Worth, for offering great choices like tabbouleh and wheatberry bread.
Lodging / Catering FireLake Grill House, Radisson Hotel, Minneapolis, for putting whole grains at the center of their menu.
K-12 Public Schools Colorado Springs (CO) School District 11 and The Energy Zone, Fairfax County (VA) Public Schools, for switching kids to whole wheat pizza crusts, hamburger rolls and PBJs on whole grain bread – and even using whole grain breading on chicken nuggets!
K-12 Private Schools Flik Independent Schools at Milton Academy (MA) and Ross School (East Hampton NY) for everything from wheatberry salad to whole wheat phyllo.
College / University Virginia Tech Dining Services D2 (Blacksburg, VA) for its integrated campaign promoting whole grains for health.
Workplace Flik/Compass Group at Merck for daily whole grain salads at the deli and grill, as an alternative to fries or chips.
Healthcare HSC Cafeteria at West Virginia University Hospitals, for using whole grains in everything from paella to chocolate pecan biscotti.
Other University Village Center, a retirement village in Tampa that regularly offers dishes like Seafood Amaranth and Buckwheat Soba Noodle Salad.



QSR: McDonald’s; Fast Casual: Buca di Beppo, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, and Farrelli’s Pizza; Fine Dining: Cherry Valley Country Club (Skillman, NJ), COCO500 (San Francisco CA), and Rialto (Boston MA); K-12 Public: South Seneca (NY) CSD and Clymer (NY) Central School Cafeteria. K-12 Private: Flik Independent Schools at Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, NH) and at Westchester (NY) Day School. University: The Ohio State University’s Courtside Café and Juice 2 and Cornell Dining. Healthcare: Holy Spirit Healthcare Center (Putnam, CT)


Setting a Great Example

Virginia Tech and the other Whole Grains Challenge winners set a great example for other foodservice operations and restaurants. The Whole Grains Council challenges every food outlet in America to step up to the plate and offer at least one whole grain choice at every meal.