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
vegetables with dip foodservice healthy menu

From Mrs. Dash Foodservice.

There was a time when healthy food meant counting calories, omitting carbs, giving up sugar and going fat-free—in other words, it was all about deprivation.

But not anymore. Today’s definition of healthy means an overall focus on nutrition and wellness that doesn’t mean giving up enjoyment. It’s all about balance: good fats, healthy carbs, better sweeteners, wholesome ingredients and satisfying flavor enhancements. It means food that customers can feel good about, at the same time that they’re enjoying the dining experience.

According to...

Industry News & Opinion

Aramark today announced a partnership with celebrity chef and TV personality Cat Cora that will put a new concept from the Top Chef star in Aramark’s North American business-and-industry accounts.

The new fast-casual concept, called Olilo by Cat Cora, promises a healthy, made-your-way menu, according to the global foodservice provider.

“By bringing together Chef Cora's award-winning brand and healthy cooking advocacy and Aramark's commitment to enriching and nourishing the lives of the thousands of consumers we serve every day, we have an opportunity to elevate the on-site...

Industry News & Opinion

Members of Congress and several advocacy groups gathered on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to highlight the potential loss of millions in state funding because of a Child Nutrition Reauthorization block grant introduced last month, and to call upon legislators to squash the bill.

The Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 houses a statute that would provide three unannounced pilot states with block grant funding. Participating states would be exempt from federal nutrition regulations and would no longer qualify for the 6-cent reimbursement per lunch garnered by certified...

Managing Your Business
hands coins banks

While the most obvious effect of the 2015 egg shortage was, well, a shortage of eggs, operators had another menu change to explain to diners: a price hike for the few eggs they were able to source.

“Our customers know what prices are like in the neighborhood and we don’t want them to feel gouged,” says Kevin Dorr, vice president of retail for Morrison Healthcare. “Unlike a restaurant, the people coming to our cafes are there several times per week, so they’re very aware of price changes.” Morrison had to increase its breakfast prices correspondingly, but Dorr says customers took...

FSD Resources