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The Strict ‘Nanny-State’ Food Guidelines That Prevented a Single Restaurant From Applying to Service NYC’s Health Dept. Cafe


“It’s definitely intimidating..."

Hummus might not make the cut based on its sodium content for the health department's cafe. (Photo: mamagyro)

New York City's Health Department for two years has been trying to find a restaurant or caterer to service its headquarter's cafe, but the New York Post reported not a single applicant responded to its request for proposals.

Why? Here's what the Post wrote of the "nanny-state" that might have dissuaded an establishment from applying:

The department’s picky food specs mandated that all entrees and sandwiches be less than 700 calories with at least 50 percent under 500, and that no more than 20 snack and dessert items be available at any time, with all less than 200 calories and containing less than 200 milligrams of sodium.

Also, only juices 8 ounces and under and only 1 percent or no-fat milk would be permitted.

This doesn't mean workers at the health department won't have an on-site food option in the end though. The Post reported that the department reached out to the Greek restaurant mamagyro, which is now finalizing details to meet the dietary requirements.

Co-owner of the eatery, Vicki Likitsakos, told the Post the requirements, which have even been scaled back at this point by the department, were "surprising" but she feels doable.

“It’s not like we can offer a sandwich with a lot of cheese, turkey and ham and they’ll be OK with that,” Likitsakos said. “It’s definitely intimidating — but we’re not afraid.”

These requirements though, according to Likitsakos, are what have delayed the cafe's opening. The cafe also won't take on the official name of the eatery because it won't be serving gyros. It instead is called mamabites and will open in May with some traditional Greek food among more mainstream options, like turkey sandwiches.

Hummus, the chick-pea blended dip, is also still under review to make the dietary cut because of its sodium content.

According to the Post, not going through the RFP process results in the city losing money.

Read more details in the New York Post here.

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