Third Annual "The Best"

Social Media

Twitter promotion I’ve seen
Seattle-based Cupcake Royale was the first cupcake café to open outside of New York City. Founded in 2003, Cupcake Royale grew from one location to five during an enormous economic downturn by building reputation and loyalty through Twitter. [They would] tweet secret specials like Cupcake Happy Hour at a particular location and time. They would closely relate themselves with the local scene by tweeting about special guests in music, pop culture or politics as an excellent PR strategy.
—Storm Hodge, assistant director of food services, University of Washington, Seattle

The Best, Twitter Idea to increase Facebook likes/Twitter followers
Using one of our marketing street team members, we offered a reusable cold cup as a thank you for simply signing up to “like” our Facebook page. The street team visited several locations around campus, armed with a laptop where students could sign up on the spot and receive their cup. We increased our fan base by 250 people over the course of two days.
—David Hill, area manager, University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H.

Commercial use of social media that I’ve stolen
I love Boston’s Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery + Café Twitter feeds’ conversational tone. We’ve tried to adopt that personal, ironic, observational, warm and friendly tone with our posts.
—Patti Klos, director of dining and business services, Tufts University, Medford, Mass.

The best non-promotional use of social media
My college-age daughter connected me with pinterest.com. The site advertises it as a virtual pinboard and a method to “organize and share the things you love.” For me, the best part is that it allows you to tell a “story” as opposed to a one-time Twitter post. You can create a pinboard of related topics, ideas or thoughts. You can create separate boards to categorize things like favorite recipes and share it with others.
—Julie Jones, director of food and nutrition, Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio

Facebook promotion I’ve seen: The Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District posts a picture each day of the meal a nutrition services employee chose to eat that day from one of the district’s schools. It shows great variety of options, including vegetables.
—Melanie Konarik, director of child nutrition, Spring Independent School District, Houston

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
phone bed call sick

We make people call and directly talk to their boss or supervisor if they are reporting an absence for a shift. While it is more cumbersome, it is a conscious decision. We have adapted and implemented electronic methods to obtain efficiencies in just about every other functional area, except for electronic absence reporting systems. The direct supervisor can put more pressure on an employee to show up—especially those with some form of the “Super Bowl plague”—than any electronic system can.

Menu Development
ranch dressing chicken fingers

While salad bars are often the first place K-12 operators look to incorporate more fresh produce, few go as far as making their own salad dressings. But last fall, in a continuing effort to transition from prepackaged meals to an all-scratch menu, Mark Augustine, executive chef of culinary and nutrition services for Minneapolis Public Schools, switched to concocting four varieties in-house—ranch, Caesar, Italian and Asian vinaigrette. The move, designed to eliminate artificial ingredients and lower fat and sodium, presented the biggest challenge when it came to ranch dressing, the school-...

Ideas and Innovation
business card

We get the new folks abridged business cards saying, “Hi, my name is so-and-so and I work in nutrition department.” We thought it would give them more ownership of the program and elevate their status and position in the organization. It also gives our team more self-confidence and self-worth as an employee, which can be a challenge with foodservice workers.

Ideas and Innovation
tug hospital robot

Automation has opened up in recent years as foodservice operators across the country grapple with labor shortages. Robots deliver food trays to patients in hospitals, and they make sushi on college campuses. For some operators, they’re worthwhile to reduce strain on human employees and increase productivity.

Robots roamed the hallways when the University of California San Francisco Medical Center’s new Mission Bay campus opened last year. Though these robots have nicknames like Wall-E and Tuggie McFresh, they’re not a novelty. They’re a solution to a problem that administrators...

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