Hoos Choice Continually Evolves to Better Serve UVA Employees
Hoos Choice: Making Healthy Eating Accessible for the UVA Community
When Vic Tringali, Manager of Employee Well-being, first met Corey DiLuciano, Sr. Food and Nutrition Director, UVA Health System, there was an instant, creative chemistry and a genuine desire to pursue new joint ventures that would affect the UVA community.
The two at once began brainstorming how to creatively leverage their respective areas of expertise – workplace health promotion and food and nutrition services. Tringali introduced the idea to deliver healthy, pre-packaged meals labeled “Hoos Choice,” which would be appealing, easy, and convenient for UVA health team members. Excited by the idea, DiLuciano – who is also a registered dietitian, enlisted added support of UVA Health dietitians to form a task force charged with turn the idea into reality.
Understanding the daily experience and work environment of team members in the UVA Medical Center, DiLuciano says he was initially attracted to the Hoos Choice idea because it made choosing a healthy option easier for employees with limited break time and demanding work.
After months of planning menus, establishing nutritional parameters, and coordinating with vendors, the task force successfully launched Hoos Choice in the UVA Medical Center and established an avenue for offering packaged meals through the UVA Medical Center catering website. Since its début in 2019, Hoos Choice has undergone several iterations. Initially beginning with boxed meals, they have grown to focus on salad entrees. Capitalizing on its success, Hoos Choice will soon be expanding to include more snacks, grilled selections, and other items in the café. It will also offer a loyalty rewards program for frequent customers.
Considering the partnership between their teams, Tringali and DiLuciano agree that communication has been paramount to their success, and that their collaboration has been rewarding. While acknowledging it can sometimes be challenging, DiLuciano advises to teams in similar situations, “Be patient and stay the course. We are constantly working together to design what is next and to evolve, and in the end, the effort is worth it.” Tringali – who also serves as an Assistant Professor of Public Health at UVA agrees, echoing that health interventions often take trial and error. “It’s important to maintain fidelity to the research from which an intervention is based while adapting to the context of the environment, and that requires patience and monitoring. So, you have to undertake a project like this with the expectation that the first iteration is not going to be ideal, and modifications will be necessary at some point,” Tringali explains. “You have to be open to consumer feedback, face unexpected operational challenges, and then adapt appropriately.”
Hoos Choice provides an easy alternative to traditional “fast food,” and takes the guesswork out of healthy eating for UVA employees. You can learn more about the initiative on the Hoos Well website, and order Hoos Choice catering for an upcoming event. To pick up a prepackaged meal, visit the Medical Center east café and look for the Hoos Choice logo on the salad bar.