College foodservice is an ever-changing industry. Here are some of the latest trends and news about campus food across the country.
The Push for Healthy
Are the days of the traditional “all-you-can-eat” buffet on college campuses over? Well, students are always going to be hungry and have extra meal plan dollars to use, so they’ll probably never be over. However, according to the College and University Consumer Trend Report, mentioned in this Food Product Design article, only 28 percent of students are happy with the amount of “healthy” foods they are provided. There has been such a huge push for healthy grade and high schools, so why wouldn’t it trickle over to the college campus? Many college foodservices are going in a healthier direction too, one being Sodexo. They are mixing it up with healthy and customized Mediterranean food—which seems to have resulted from their own student’s research.
Grab n’ Go
When a student is in a rush between classes, they don’t exactly have the time to sit down and have a meal in the cafeteria, especially if it’s during odd hours. This is one of the moments where Grab n’ Go’s really get their time to shine, but students are always looking for something quick and different. After all, one can only have a ham or turkey sandwich with chips everyday for so long before it gets old. Some campuses are mixing up their Grab n’ Go selection, such as Bennington College with menu items like the Chipotle Smoked Turkey and Bacon Wrap, Vegan Hummus Wrap, Protein Salads or Tangy Roast Beef Sandwiches.
Without a doubt, it’s been the summer of the food truck. They are fast and convenient, making the college campus a perfect place for them. What makes it even better is they are convenient for students as the truck goes to wherever they are. So you’re not losing the students who don’t feel like walking across campus to eat. Catering to laziness? …no. Not necessarily. You could think of it as being more convenient for those pressed for time, or helping the students out. (Sitting in an hour and 45 minutes of calculus can be really tiring). Either way, it’s more money in your pocket. This Napa Valley Register article talks about Napa Valley College—who due to budget cuts can no longer serve lunch out of its cafeteria and have rolled out a food truck pilot program. The article says, “about six food trucks will be available on campus from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Fifteen food trucks are participating in the program, so the food options will vary each day.”
Social media is a great way to inform customers in a quick and timely fashion, not to mention it’s mostly free too. With most students being glued to their phones 24/7, social media is probably one of their preferred methods of being contacted. (Do college students even check their email anymore? And are they going to know about your latest special if it’s only posted at the location…which they may or may not travel to?) Back in February, QSR wrote this article which covered a study saying 95 percent of university food operations use social media in some way. So, if you’re in that 5 percent, you may want to reconsider revamping your marketing campaign a bit. All the different types of social media sites out there can be a bit overwhelming, but that’s where websites like TweetDeck come into play, that can automatically post to several different sites at once. You can even schedule posts ahead of time and could have a full day’s worth of posting ready to go in 10 minutes before the day really even gets started. So no more excuses about not having time when a site like TweetDeck will do it for you…..for free. The students will appreciate it.
What college foodservice trends are you finding? What resources do you use that everyone should bookmark?