Feeding campus cravings

From Blue Bunny.

Demand for food, beverage and sundries is brisk day and night at America’s colleges and universities. That explains the growing prominence of campus convenience stores with a broad product mix.

Unlike the limited campus outlets of the past that dealt in soft drinks, bags of chips and tubes of toothpaste, leading c-stores today typically offer a more elaborate selection of food, ranging from grab-and-go sandwiches and salads to fully prepared meals. This is in addition to other staples of student life like snacks, beverages, candy, ice cream novelties and personal care items.

Convenience partly explains why c-stores are popular with students today, says Cynthia Lategan, senior executive chef at 25,000-student Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colo., but there’s more to the story.

“It also has a lot to do with the fact that they get tired of eating in the dining halls all the time,” says Lategan. “This allows them to bring food back to their rooms or to their study groups or eat outside under the trees.”

At Colorado State, the Ram’s Horn Express and Durrell Express c-stores offer a bundled meal called “Main plus 3,” which consists of a main dish and three side items. Typical mains are pizza, burgers, chicken sandwiches, packaged entrée salads and deli sandwiches. Sides include beverages, ice cream novelties, chips, cookies, snacks, fruit and side salads.

“Grab-and-go food is huge,” says Lategan. “Students just love to go in there on a Friday afternoon before going on a trip to stock up on deli sandwiches, snacks and beverages.”

All told, ice cream novelties account for about 20 percent of the desserts ordered as sides with Main Plus 3. “They hold their own,” Lategan says, versus competing treats like candy and cookies. The most popular choices are ice cream sandwiches, fudge bars and vanilla ice cream-orange sherbet bars.

Another school catering to the student demand for quick, convenient food is Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. Campus dining options include several outlets that combine aspects of both restaurants and c-stores, satisfying both eat-in and take-out customers.

For instance, at Out of Bounds Market and Grille, the offerings range from hot sandwiches, burgers and pizza to packaged beverages, sandwiches, salads, snacks, groceries and ice cream. The Tom John Food Shop likewise is known for hot sandwiches, but it also has a grocery area with grab-and-go salads, fruit cups, snacks, frozen entrees and ice cream.

When it comes to frozen treats, such outlets carry at least 20 kinds of Blue Bunny ice cream novelties as well as ice cream pints and cups, reports Elizabeth Poore, assistant director of operations for Ball State Dining at the 22,000-student university.

“We do well with ice cream all year round,” says Poore. “It’s a dessert, it’s a snack, it’s whatever you want it to be. It’s just a good thing to grab and go with.”

The best-selling novelty is the Blue Bunny Big Bopper ice cream sandwich, which has vanilla ice cream nestled between two chocolate chip cookies. The Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bar is in second place. The top ice cream flavor is Fudge Brownie, followed by Cookie Dough and Birthday Party. The latter is white cake-flavored ice cream with confetti-shaped candy pieces and a blue frosting ribbon.

For students who are sharing an ice cream treat, or for those who feel indulgent, Blue Bunny ice cream pints are on sale in assorted flavors. For other snackers, Blue Bunny Personals,5.5-ounce cups of premium ice cream with a spoon under the lid, are just the right portion size.

“Sometimes you want a little something sweet, but not too much,” says Poore. “I think the girls here especially like that.”

For more information about Blue Bunny ice cream novelties, visit www.bluebunny.com/foodservice or call 800-807-8221.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Risley Dining Room at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has just become 100 percent gluten-free, 14850.com reports.

For the past two years, the university has slowly phased out gluten in the dining hall’s menu by eliminating it in its stir fries, biscuits and brownies.

Instead of offering gluten-free versions of typical college fare, including pizza and pasta, the dining service team aimed for more sophisticated restaurant-style items.

Along with being gluten-free, Risley is also peanut free and tree-nut free.

The dining room is the second college eatery...

Industry News & Opinion

James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., recently hosted a weeklong program called Weigh the Waste, which aimed to show students how much food gets wasted in dining halls, The Breeze reports.

Throughout the week, students placed food they were about to throw away on a scale located near the trash bins at one of their dining halls. At the end of the week, the school tallied the waste and saw that 817 pounds of food had been wasted.

School officials hope that the annual program, which it’s hosted since 2015, will remind dining hall patrons to only take as much food as...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

Read the full story via...

Managing Your Business
hand chip card

Between menu planning, budgets and the other myriad concerns FSDs face, it’s easy to overlook the simple ID and/or cash cards issued to diners. But making the choice to upgrade technology can unlock the potential of these once-humble cards: They can be room keys, event tickets and, perhaps most importantly, a needed additional layer of security.

That’s the future of student IDs at the University of Notre Dame, which will switch from magnetic strip cards to chip-based ones in August 2017. “Traditionally, the ID cards have been used as point-of-entry access for dining operations,”...

FSD Resources