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Blue Wall offers healthy new sandwich options

University of Massachusetts students hungry for quick cuisine that won’t clog their arteries need to look no further than the Blue Wall, which began offering a new spread of organic sandwiches this fall.

The sandwiches, located within the Blue Wall’s deli section, are produced by French Meadow Bakery, the country’s oldest certified organic bakery. The bakery is run by entrepreneur Lynn Gordon, who started the business over 20 years ago by selling organic Ciabatta bread rolls out of her small Minnesota kitchen.

Gordon’s company made its debut at UMass thanks to a two-hour layover that Dining Services Director Ken Toong, spent in a Minneapolis airport in January, where the bakery’s goods caught his eye. In the airport, French Meadow Restaurant offers organic breads, soups and a collection of all-natural meats in Ciabatta bread.

“I could not resist and went inside to look further. I was most impressed with the organic ‘this and that’ everywhere. I thought to myself, this is what we need at UMass – a restaurant that provides all-natural organic ingredients, promotes sustainability and serves healthy and tasty food,” Toong said.

This summer, Toong invited Gordon to visit UMass to discuss whether the University would be ready for French Meadow Bakery goods. Following this meeting, three of UMass’ Blue Wall employees trained in one of Gordon’s bakeries in Minneapolis.

“I think UMass students are ready for this. The cost may be a bit more but it will be worth it,” Toong said.

Blue Wall customers can buy the sandwiches for $5.75 each, or they can pay $7.50 for a “combo meal” which includes a personal size bag of chips and a soda.

“We put the fresh sandwiches in the turbo oven. 45 seconds later, they’re perfectly toasted and ready to be eaten,” said Blue Wall Chef Manager Curtis Gregoire, one of the employees who attended the summer training.

Students currently have their choice between five signature sandwiches – turkey and Swiss, chicken and goat cheese, ham and white cheddar, roast beef and Havarti and three-cheese vegetarian. In addition to having all-natural and nitrate-free meat, the sandwiches come with spinach, roasted red peppers or roasted plum tomatoes and homemade sauce.

“The sandwiches are really good. I love the fact that it’s all organic, because I’m a big health nut,” said UMass junior and chemical engineering major Roxy Guarin.

Even senior environmental design major Matthew Martin, who maintains that taste is always a higher priority than health when it comes to his dining choices, enjoys the healthy sandwiches.

“The ham and cheese is really good. It’s a different alternative to the same stuff people always get at the Blue Wall. It’s a lot better tasting than a lot of the things in there, too. Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me that it’s organic, but taste is definitely my biggest thing,” he said.

According to Toong, a French Meadow kiosk is set to open on the concourse of the Campus Center later this fall featuring a full line of French Meadow’s organic breads, soups, salads and bakery items.

“I have learned to keep watch during my travels and at airport stops, as you never know what innovative concepts are out there that would be great for UMass,” Toong concluded.

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