2014 Silver Plate: Mark LoParco

LoParco’s passion at Montana is inspiring students, colleagues and communities.

Published in FSD Update

“Mark is highly energetic. He is high energy, he is a thinker, he’s innovative,” shares Teresa Branch, Ph.D., vice president for student affairs. “The student body has gotten behind [the program]—who wouldn’t appreciate fresh food? Of course Mark has always provided outstanding meal options for the student body. It’s not unusual to get steak, shrimp and a variety of things that when I was in school, I certainly don’t remember. He’s able to do a fantastic job of providing meals for our student body. It’s a rare complaint that I get, and the complaint is almost never about the food.”

Along with the Farm to College Program one of LoParco’s initiatives has been planting a campus garden. “We have very strong student support for what we’re doing, and by that I mean that each of the last three graduating classes, for their class legacy project, have all been programs in UM Dining,” he says. “I’m able to look out my window here and there’s a greenhouse sitting there that was built in part with student funds. There also is a solar array that is going to be on the top of the building here—[student] funds were donated toward that. And then this year they’re donating funds towards a food washing station in conjunction with the garden. The students have been very, very supportive, and supportive with their dollars, in terms of our sustainable business practices.”

Campus and beyond

LoParco’s passion has inspired more than Montana’s students. As executive director of the UM Food Service Management and Purchasing Consortium, LoParco provides administrative and financial leadership for dining services at all four UM affiliate campuses. As NACUFS 2013-2014 president, he leads his peers in foodservice. And through service on community boards, he serves the areas surrounding the university and his home.

“I still get really excited to come to work. There’s so much to do, there’s no shortage,” LoParco says. “I’m involved on campus in a wide variety of areas … there’s a lot to keep me busy and I tend to stay busy.”

For operations looking to increase the use of local and sustainable foods, LoParco recommends starting with the “low-hanging fruit. So what’s closest and what’s available enough in quantities that can make a difference. The key is to look at what’s available and in what radius,” he says. “Any time I talk with folks, [I] encourage personal activism. That’s as simple as when you go out to eat, just ask what’s local on the menu and buy it. You can be personally involved in your local food movement.” 

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
boston college acai bowl

From Dannon Foodservice.

Catering to the go-go-go lifestyle of university students is a challenge, and it’s one that Boston College dining representatives wrestle with daily.

“Students don’t just want to eat dinner between 5 and 7 p.m.,” says Beth Emery, the school’s director of dining. “They may want to eat dinner at 9 o’clock. We’ve been trying to come up with creative solutions.”

Those creative solutions include everything from offering breakfast items throughout the day to providing healthier late-night choices to trolling social media for trendy new menu ideas...

Sponsored Content
savory yogurt parfait

From Dannon Foodservice.

What consumers eat and, most importantly, when they’re eating it has changed significantly in recent years, signaling opportunity for operators able to capitalize on this evolution.

For example, some 83% of consumers said they were daily snackers in 2016, according to Technomic’s Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report . That’s up from 76% just two years earlier. Snacking is growing across many channels from retail prepared foods to bakery and coffee cafes, fast-food locations and more.

Busy lifestyles, smaller households with greater meal...

Industry News & Opinion

Labor secretary nominee Andy Puzder has officially bowed out of consideration for the cabinet position, according to the Associated Press .

Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants—the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.—was tired of being under fire for hiring an undocumented immigrant as a nanny and being accused 26 years ago of physically abusing his wife, an unnamed source told CBS News . The agency reported that Puzder was unlikely to show for the start of his confirmation hearings tomorrow.

Puzder has also been attacked by organized labor for comments suggesting that...

Industry News & Opinion

Risley Dining Room at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has just become 100 percent gluten-free, 14850.com reports.

For the past two years, the university has slowly phased out gluten in the dining hall’s menu by eliminating it in its stir fries, biscuits and brownies.

Instead of offering gluten-free versions of typical college fare, including pizza and pasta, the dining service team aimed for more sophisticated restaurant-style items.

Along with being gluten-free, Risley is also peanut free and tree-nut free.

The dining room is the second college eatery...

FSD Resources