NACUFS for Newbies

Published in FSD Update

Solo Cups, animal welfare and more from my first conference.

I just returned from my first NACUFS conference, which was held in Minneapolis, and perhaps the thing that’s sticking in my head is a comment about Solo Cups. This could very well be because of Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup” song, which is one of those maddening ditties that get stuck in your head for hours.

The comment came during a roundtable discussion about retail operations on college campuses. Vanderbilt’s Spiros Vergatos was talking about the importance of knowing exactly what your customers want so that you can provide those products to them and make a profit. For example, he said one of the university’s c-stores sits right across from fraternity row and one of its best-sellers is Solo Cups. (I’ll go ahead and assume I don’t need to explain this one. As opposed to the song, Vanderbilt’s cups are not red but gold and black to match the university’s colors.) That c-store has become the No. 1 seller of Solo Cups in the state of Tennessee.

That’s just one of the things we learned at the conference—Associate Editor Steven Johnson also attended the show. Here are a few other interesting tidbits:

  • Dr. Temple Grandin spoke about animal welfare issues. She noted that while younger people are more concerned about where their food comes from, only 31% have ever been to a farm. Grandin also said it was important to prevent bad from becoming normal. To ensure that, set high standards and audit/measure against those.
  • The grand prize in the culinary competition went to Bryce Benes from Orange Coast College.
  • Chef Mai Pham discussed the benefits of incorporating more Asian cuisine, particularly Vietnamese and Thai, into college dining halls. Pham says food from Southeast Asia uses more vegetables and less meat, which would bring costs down while promoting a healthier food option for students. In addition to vegetables, Pham recommended more use of nuts and legumes as a protein substitute to meat. Also, serving smaller portions such as in more traditional Asian meals also helps to promote healthier eating habits. Pham says operators can do without the use of processed foods by incorporating herbs and spices to add more layers of flavors.
  • Steven Schussler, the restaurant developer best known for the Rainforest Café, spoke at the 5 P’s of Entrepreneurial Success. Those are: personality (be yourself); product (be proud of your product); persistence ("no's" are "yes's" waiting to happen); people (have the right people who believe in your mission); and philanthropy (never forget to help others). Schussler also shared his 11 commandments for creativity: entertainment, education, environment, employees, earning, sight, sound, smell, touch, taste and passion. He also said innovation takes time and that research and development should be the last things cut from your budget.
  • Joe Pine, author, speaker and management advisor, spoke about going beyond foodservice. Pine’s three rules to do business by are: if you are authentic, you don’t have to say it; it’s easier to be authentic than to say you’re authentic; and if you say you’re authentic, then you better be authentic. Pine’s design principals are THEME: theme the experience; harmonize the impression with positive cues; eliminate negative cues; mix in memorabilia; and engage all five senses. Pine says we have shifted into an experience economy and customizing service turns something into an experience. 
Keywords: 
new concepts

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
quinoa bowl

In a time of growing health consciousness, it might not be enough anymore for food to be merely filling. According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report , diners are looking for food with a function, such as those with high protein content, immunity-boosting properties, antioxidants, probiotics and more. The data suggests 63% of consumers see these foods as healthier than those without any specific nutritional function—and would be more likely to buy them.

But are those stated preferences translating on an operational level? There, the answer is less clear. Baby...

Ideas and Innovation
reusable coffee cup thermos

We were inspired by a book titled “Influence” to start a sustainable cup program called My Cup. All 15,000 new students receive a reusable cup with their name on it, which they can use at the dining halls. Personalizing helps them invest in the program and actually use it.

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
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.

FSD Resources