The Big Idea 2014: Study abroad care packages

robert-flynn

Robert Flynn
New Media Coordinator
Boston University, Boston

About two years ago, a Boston University (BU) student who was studying abroad tweeted that she missed the cookies from one of our dining halls. Since I oversee the social media for Boston University dining services, and we’re very active on Twitter, I saw the tweet and thought it was great that they missed us and how cool it would be if I could surprise them with those cookies. So I found out the student’s address overseas and put a package together of the cookies and a few other items, and that’s how this care package program started.

BU students study in about 30 cities in the U.S. and around the world. Some live with private families, while others live in a dorm setting with other students. At this point, we send about one or two packages per semester to students who mention us, or I’ll choose a student at random. If  students tweeted a specific item that they miss, I’ll include it and usually I’ll get them a jar of Marshmallow Fluff and some peanut butter or Nutella and maybe some candies, the Boston paper from that day and then a nice card saying “We miss you” signed by staff. It really brightens the students’ day when they get the package.

There are so many students at BU, but we work to create a community here, especially with the students studying abroad thousands of miles away from their friends and family. Whatever we can do for the students is what it comes down to. Once or twice a semester, it’s a package abroad, but on a daily basis, we’re interacting with our students, and social media makes it easier for us to do that.

The study abroad care packages are not a formal program. We plan to con-tinue reaching out to students in this way and have started a discussion with our study abroad program to do something similar on a larger scale in order to reach more students and build on the idea. 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

FSD Resources