Christopher Dunham

Christopher Dunham's driving force has made him a success at North Carolina State University.

Why Selected?

According to Lisa Eberhart, executive dietitian, Christopher has transformed dining services at NC State by:

• Being the driving force in My Roots are at NC State sustainability program, which promotes local purchasing by showcasing NC State connections

• Fostering partnerships with local producers, university alumni and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture

• Establishing a My Roots Herb Garden outside of one of the dining halls


Sustainability Coordinator for University Dining, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
Age: 24
Education: B.S. in nutrition science from NC State University
Years at organization: 3

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

My proudest accomplishment is when I received The Pioneering Efforts Award from the City of Raleigh for pioneering local food connections and demonstrating environmental stewardship through involvement of staff, alumni and students.

Q. What would you say you excel at over more seasoned colleagues?

Since I am a recent graduate, I have more insight compared to seasoned colleagues as to what students will connect with and what kinds of programs and initiatives they will take ownership of.

Q. What's the best career advice you've been given?

Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself and you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you’ll have more success than you could possibly have imagined.

Q. What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?

Keeping the percentage of purchased local food at an all-time high, while being limited by quantity needs and other contractual obligations that we currently have with other vendors.

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

Our 2012 All Carolinas Meal was the first large event that I assisted in planning for the department. I was able to see the event from beginning to end and experience the students’ and staff’s enthusiasm when they arrived and
experienced the event.

Q. What would you like to accomplish in your career in the next two years?

I would like to assist the program in increasing the amount of local food that we purchase throughout the year. We are currently at 28% local, and I am hoping that in the very near future we can increase that number.

Q. What's been your funniest on-the-job disaster?

That was when we were planning a farm-to-fork meal at the local NC State Agroecology Education Farm. We had planned out everything in its entirety, but the one thing that we forgot to do was to reserve a catering truck to get everything over to the farm. Luckily, we found a way to get everything in the back of my truck, and the event turned out to be a success.

Under 30

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo aims to reduce carbon emissions by 34% at its foodservice and facilities management sites by 2025, a goal it says it will reach through such changes as converting cooking oil into biodiesel fuel and using energy-efficient HVAC systems.

In announcing this endeavor toward sustainability, Sodexo—which manages more than 32,000 sites globally—noted that over 7,200 of its sites in North America recycle aluminum and paper, and 8,640 recycle cardboard.

Managing Your Business
alumni worker

It’s a sure sign that a school is doing something right when its students want to come back and work as adults. From the standpoint of the foodservice director, though, there is plenty to gain from retaining homegrown talent—call it the ultimate return on investment. In the wake of back-to-school season, two dining programs with a robust alumni contingent share their thoughts on hiring former customers.

Local expertise

At Georgia Southern University, about one-third of Eagle Dining Services’ 107 full-time employees are alumni. “They way we do things on our campus may be very...

Managing Your Business
business ladder climbing illustration

Recruiting talent is only half the battle for Mike Folino, associate director of nutrition services at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. Once he’s attracted good employees, providing clear opportunities for advancement can help retain them—but knowing when to bring up the topic in conversation can be tricky.

Prior to hiring

Folino likes to touch on advancement during the initial interview process, but the extent to which he does so changes case by case. “I have had interviews where we knew right away that we needed to discuss our structure and...

Managing Your Business
hands team

In November, students at University of Missouri in Columbia began leading protests against discrimination faced by people of color on campus—including some marches through the dining halls. Julaine Kiehn, director of the school’s campus dining services, said the 2015-16 school year was a tough one, but she was proud of MU’s students for being at the forefront of a national movement.

And not only did the protests launch important conversations with students, but also with staff. Kiehn heard the protests and thought that her student workers, at least, might not feel safe and welcome...

FSD Resources