5 lessons from the 2016 NACUFS conference

Published in FSD Update

By 
Dana Moran, Managing Editor

nacufs show floor

1. Flavor trends: New takes on coffee, Asian flavors, “healthy”

I’m not sure if it’s because this year’s convention took place in California (aka Land of the Freekeh and Home of the Grains) or if the clean labeling movement has taken an even tighter hold on college dining, but the proliferation of GMO-free, gluten-free, additive-free and other “clean” products was apparent at this year’s NACUFS conference showcase. Other notable standouts included cold brew and artisan coffees, and new takes on Asian flavors, from ramen to broths to Indian to Thai.

2. The best workers don’t always make the best trainers

Those with a great attitude who also put forth great effort are sure to be great trainers, right? Not necessarily, says Chuck Nicosia, corporate job trainer for University of Buffalo Dining. There’s another great aspect operators have to look for—patience. “They give a new person the chance to learn,” he says. Employees without the patience piece of the puzzle won’t always take the time to make sure a new hire has mastered the role.

3. Overprepare for the unexpected

When a YouTube video of a University of Connecticut student drunkenly harassing a dining services manager for jalapeno macaroni and cheese went viral in late 2015, the foodservices team reacted carefully. Dennis Pierce, executive director of dining services, issued a directive that all communication with the media come through himself and university higher-ups, and refused to respond to gossip on social media. But Pierce and Robert Landolphi, assistant director of culinary development, recognized that the videotaped incident itself wasn’t handled perfectly. “Dave [the manager] did a good job, but he probably could have handled it differently,” Landolphi says. “How do you de-escalate the situation instead?” UConn now has a protocol in place requiring residential dining employees to immediately call police if students arrive inebriated and unruly.

4. Switch up your training tactics on slow days

Partnering with a new employee to ensure meal-by-meal consistency may be an effective way to train when tickets are coming in steadily—but what about times when your dining room is dead? The University of Buffalo’s Nicosia has a few solutions. “Write 10 items on a 3-by-5 card that are needed to stock the station, and have the trainee go find them,” he says. The trainee can ask other co-workers where to find the products, turning the exercise into an introduction session as well as a great way to orient the worker to the kitchen space.

5. Play off the university’s overall branding plan to maintain consistency and clout

Coming up with a portfolio of logos for every scenario accomplishes little when it comes to brand recognition, says Jennifer Gilmore, director of marketing and communications for campus enterprises at North Carolina State University. Instead, align your marketing program with the university’s: Use color to communicate categories (green for sustainability, purple for nutrition, etc.), and invest in high-quality imagery—even if that means buying a camera and learning to shoot your own photos. For more on NC State’s branding, click here.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Regional School Unit 17 in Belfast, Maine, is banning straws beginning on Monday, the Penbay Pilot reports.

The ban was put into action by a student group and the district’s foodservice director. Over the years, the district has also phased out plastic utensils and plans to completely eliminate foam food trays this upcoming school year.

Director of Food Services Perley Martin told the Penbay Pilot that the district’s foodservice budget has not increased as a result of the transition to more eco-friendly materials, due to the fact the change was made slowly.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

School districts in Jefferson, Oswego, and St. Lawrence counties in New York will be expanding their farm-to-school programs as the result of new funding, Watertown Daily Times reports.

The expansions will be made possible by the Seeds for Success program, which awarded grants to seven school districts last year to begin farm-to-school programs. This year, it will provide $5,000 grants to an additional 19 districts to either start or expand their local food efforts.

One of the grant recipients said it will use the funds to add additional gardens and expand its composting...

Industry News & Opinion

Aramark has begun using a new system to track, purchase and report on its sustainable practices.

The system, named Open Fields, allows foodservice vendors to create and monitor their own sustainability programs. Users can run their own metrics on various sustainability initiatives based on factors such as location, product, spend, attribute, farm/vendor, miles to location and distributor. Managers can also generate reports on their organization’s sustainable purchases.

Aramark says it’s using the software to track its sustainable purchases of products that are Fair Trade...

Industry News & Opinion

Columbia Public Schools in Columbia, Mo., has introduced a farm-to-school coordinator position for its new farm-to-school program , the Missourian reports .

The district partnered with the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture to create the role, which is intended to help about 1,000 third- through fifth-graders eat more fruits and vegetables. The coordinator will be in charge of arranging student field trips to the Center’s farm as well as writing and planning a curriculum and activities for students.

The Center will provide around $42,000 for the position, and the...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code