Fast Food Breakthrough at CIA’s Menus of Change

Through Menus of Change®, the CIA and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health have been encouraging the foodservice industry to provide healthier, more sustainable, and delicious food and to reconsider the role of protein in favor of plant-forward culinary strategies.

The initiative paid dividends at the 5th annual Menus of Change Leadership Summit in June when Sonic Drive-In became the first major quick-service chain to unveil a beef and mushroom "blended" burger. Blended burgers are healthier and better for the environment. But most importantly, they are tastier than all-beef burgers—with the mushroom providing "umami" mouth feel and making the burgers moister.

And, Sonic isn't the only food business adopting the Menus of Change principles. More than 80 percent of operators who have attended a summit introduced new recipes or revised existing ones as a result of participating. From corporate dining to multi-unit restaurant groups, they are adopting the Menus of Change principles as part of their strategic planning. In addition, nearly 50 college and university foodservice operations are members of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative. They conduct and share research in support of healthy food innovation within and beyond their walls.

The 400 attendees at the CIA's New York campus this year—executives, investors, and innovators in food, foodservice, health and nutrition, and sustainability—addressed issues such as food transparency, increasing the acceptance of plant-based proteins, and shifting consumer attitudes and behaviors towards more plant-forward options.

Sessions from the 2017 Menus of Change can be viewed online.

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