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Rethinking Counter Space in College Foodservice Dining

Are you maximizing the point-of-sale potential in your college and university dining facilities?

This is the question all foodservice directors should consider, as the point-of-sale is the ideal place to help drive impulse purchases and drive sales. But how? Whether it's a serving line or a pop-up location created to attract those students who don't have a lot of time on their way across campus, there are a few important things to consider when optimizing the point-of-sale.

START WITH APPEARANCE.

Appearances matter. Though the flavor is ultimately the most important factor, it's hard to impress students with flavor unless they're selecting your foods in the first place. The easiest way to do this is to remember we first eat with our eyes.

When you spruce up your countertop and serving lines with décor, seasonal ambiance, or attractive displays, students will be more apt to buy. Try to highlight concepts like freshness and cleanliness.  Use items that are interesting and texturally different, or props with enhanced, current styles that they can identify with.

Lighting can play a big role, as well. When you use high-quality lights like LED overhead lighting, food colors will look sharper when compared to lighting that is muted and dull. Lighting showcases your product and makes it appetizing. And remember, we live in a world of #instafood. Amongst today's demographics, this isn't just reserved for fine dining.

USE SIGNS.

Signs can serve multiple purposes. First and foremost, they provide direction. Where does the line begin? Where do I pay? What are they serving in this kiosk? These are all basic questions that students ask, and with signs, they can be answered from across the room allowing students to focus on the real decisions -- menu selection -- once they're in closer proximity.

Signs also create ambiance, tone and style. More and more, college and university dining is going away from the stereotypical serving line. Where are the trends heading? Food courts, food halls, and anything that helps make a location look like an off-campus restaurant. That's what signs can help achieve.

SAVE SPACE FOR MERCHANDISING.

Lastly, don't forget about the power of merchandising on your countertops and pop-up, kiosk-type spaces. Think about how foods are arranged. Make sure they're organized and not overcrowded, but still maintaining the appearance of abundance that's so important in food displays. The neater and more organized, the easier it will be for time-strapped students to find what they're looking for, and even not what they're looking for. In other words, go for the impulse sale.

When it comes to merchandising, don't forget the beverages, either. Beverage displays or dispensers can lead to add-on purchases, or they can be the reason for the visit in the first place. Either way, beverages are an important part of the overall merchandising strategy.


Are you looking for more information on how to maximize the potential of your college and university pop-up dining spaces? Lakeside can provide great insight into some other things to consider, as well as some equipment options that can help put them in action.


Get the Top Tips that Turn Your Underused
Spaces into Revenue Generating Venues!

Your student body is always busy, always on-the-go.  From tests and papers, to attending the "big game," and even participating in sports at all levels, they barely have time to get a decent meal.  When it comes to foodservice, you need to catch them in places outside of your normal venues. This is where our set of quick tips can help you out.  This brief guide will get you thinking "outside of the box."  You'll be able to see hidden, underutilized spaces where you can bring foodservice to new places on your campus. Download it today!

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Does Your College or University Foodservice Program Include These 7 Components?

Does Your College or University Foodservice Program Include These Six Components?

For college and university foodservice programs to succeed, they should consider seven important components.

After all, college students have enough to stress about as it is. Finding a high-quality, convenient place to eat should be the least of their concerns. Chewing on pencils just isn't going to cut it.

In terms of foodservice, it's critical for college and university directors to consider the actual needs of the students, including where, when, what, and how much time a student might have. Essentially, putting themselves in the shoes of the students they serve.

According to the National Association of College and University Food Services, this translates to seven different components in a campus foodservice operation. Let's briefly go through each of them here:

DINING HALLS

Dining halls are the standard-bearer when it comes to eating in college. Typically, they include several serving counters, are organized in buffet options, and provided a variety of choices to hungry diners. But whether you're serving John Belushi at Faber College or a current student at your local state school, the dining hall is critical as a place for choice and as a gathering spot.

FOOD COURTS

Speaking of choice, a food court is the evolution of the dining hall concept. They are similar because they offer choice and variety, typically in a tray-service type environment. They are different, though, typically in terms of branding and name identity. While a dining hall is often branding singularly as a university foodservice operation, a food court might contain popular fast casual chains or at the very least have food options displayed in a more branded fashion.

MARKETPLACES

Think of a marketplace as the retail option where students can go on campus. Typically, these will include foods to be prepared in the dorm room kitchen, but they don't have to be just prepare-at-home foods. Like grocery stores off-campus, prepared foods have a place in campus marketplaces, as well.

EXPRESS UNITS

Express-type options are typically kiosk, grab-n-go locations that eliminate traditional point-of-sale barriers. Designed for students who are running to catch their next class across campus. They're designed with time in mind.

COFFEE SHOPS AND JUICE BARS

More than any other type of foodservice component on this list, coffee shops and juice bars exist for academic purposes. Essentially, they're like on-campus libraries with a more vibrant atmosphere, and with food and beverage options. Like express units, they're designed with time in mind but for the exact opposite reasons. Aside from the quick cup of joe, students in coffee shops typically have time.

SIT DOWN RESTAURANTS

It's parents weekend. Students want to take their moms and dads out for a nice sit-down restaurant. Why should they have to leave campus? The answer is, they shouldn't. A sit down, full-service restaurant provides students with a nice place to take their parents, where faculty can take visiting guests for lunch, and were students can splurge when they have the tie and money.

CONVENIENCE STORES

Last but not least, we have the on-campus c-store. Typically smaller than a campus marketplace but larger than express units, the convenience store as a quick place -- nearby -- that provides students with all the basics, including limited prepared food options.

Does your college or university foodservice program offer all seven of these components?

Providing such a wide range of service greatly enhances the probability that students will stay on campus and participate in a campus foodservice program. The goal is to provide food options that are convenient in terms of location, menu options, and time.

Because these options are so different in terms of their delivery methods -- from grab-n-go merchandisers to buffet serving lines and pretty much everything in between -- the equipment required to make them successful is also different.


Download Your Copy of Our "C&U Tips Sheet" Below!

Your student body is always busy, always on-the-go.  From tests and papers, to attending the "big game," and even participating in sports at all levels, they barely have time to get a decent meal.  When it comes to foodservice, you need to catch them in places outside of your normal venues. This is where our set of quick tips can help you out.  This brief guide will get you thinking "outside of the box."  You'll be able to see hidden, underutilized spaces where you can bring foodservice to new places on your campus. Download it today!

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4 Factors Impacting College Foodservice

More than just about any other industry, foodservice tends to change in shorter periods of time.

Changes in college and university foodservice operations are no different. Like restaurants, hospitality, and other types of foodservice operations, college campuses are prone to trends, shifts in demographics, and all the other factors that impact our industry.

So what are the influences that are changing the landscape of college and university foodservice? What do directors need to consider to stay ahead of these changes? And, ultimately, what can programs do to keep students on campus for dinner?

Let's take a quick look at a few ideas:

CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS MEAN CHANGING MENUS.

As we've already detailed in a different blog, demographics are changing on college campuses. With a more divergent student body population stemming from a more diverse nation, in addition to the numbers of international students many colleges and universities host, menus need to reflect the demographics of those they serve. To generate more relevant and appealing menus, use a survey to help understand where your students are coming from and what they prefer to eat.

Beyond ethnic preferences, directors also need to consider health challenges. Religious dietary restrictions as well as the rise of food allergies, intolerances and food-related illnesses like Celiac disease makes it imperative that foodservice operators provide ingredient-sensitive options for those students who can't eat certain foods. Gluten free, nut free, dairy free, and dietary restrictions aren't just a matter of preference. They can actually be a matter of safety and well-being.

LABOR IS A HUGE CHALLENGE.

It's becoming harder to find, train, and retain great foodservice employees. This also holds true for college cafeterias and dining halls. Sure, there's always a pool of college students looking to pay tuition or just wanting some extra spending money, but often they can make more by working in the restaurant across the street.

To make jobs more appealing, C&U operators have become very creative in offering benefits for working on campus. Many schools offer free meals, discounted meal plans, scholarship opportunities as well as career incentives and student management programs.

Increasingly, technology is also playing a huge role in spearheading these challenges. From online ordering and delivery, to digital touchscreen menus on-site, technology and automated kitchens are helping operators deal with these various new labor challenges.

STUDENTS DEMAND TRANSPARENCY AND SUSTAINABILITY.

Today's student populations are more connected to their food supplies than ever before. They care about where food comes from, how it's grown or raised, and how it impacts the environment as a whole. Health is a keyword when it comes to today's students, but it can be taken in different contexts. Health means eating healthier foods such as a more vegetarian-focused diet, as well as environmental health in reducing the impacts dining can have.

"They [students] care about where food comes from, how it's grown or raised, and how it impacts the environment as a whole. Health is a keyword when it comes to today's students, but it can be taken in different contexts.

 

AFFORDABILITY WILL ALWAYS MATTER.

There's an oversimplified way to look at college and university foodservice, but it's true nonetheless. The more a university invests in its foodservice delivery, the better its service will be. At the same time, it's extremely challenging to keep foods affordable.

General convictions say a college should keep foods as low-cost as possible in order to accommodate student populations, but because of some of the menu preferences and requirements listed above, operations are not always as low-cost as they used to be.

One way to combat this is to provide levels of service that not only speak to a diverse student body, but also to the locations and the times that students are able to eat. To meet these student dining demands, it's important to utilize other profit centers like on-campus convenience stores or grab-n-go kiosks. Adjusting services and hours of operation during different day-parts is another way to control costs and still provide the services expected.

There are many factors that are already impacting college and university foodservice.  Be sure to download your copy of our College and University Trends Report that lists all of the top trends you can expect in the 2019-2020 school year.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched six other trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!

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How Demographics Are Impacting College and University Foodservice

Gone are the days of a college dining programs expecting to attract students just because it's located on campus.

Today's college students have smarter, savvier culinary preferences, and it's causing university foodservice operators to change their game to keep them on campus instead of crossing the street for something better. C&U operators understand that many students have the disposable income to dine off-campus.  Therefore, they must be competitive with both the variety and quality of their food offerings to keep them on campus.

However, what does "better" mean, and how do demographics drive it?

For starters, it's all focused on Generation Z, the largest demographic segment in the history of humankind. Based on Bloomberg analysis of United Nations data, Gen Z will comprise roughly one-third of the entire global population this year, edging out Millennials as the largest demographic for the first time.

Depending on which source your reference, a quick scan of the internet shows the following Gen Z character traits:

  • Less use of television
  • Hyper aware - they know what's going on all of the time
  • More focused on products versus experiences
  • Entrepreneurial and competitive
  • Motivated by security
  • Digital natives, having grown up with connectivity
  • Diverse and multicultural

So based on just a cursory review of Gen Z, how do their likes and dislikes, and general characteristics translate to college and university foodservice? How are they changing menus and service delivery? What hot flavor profiles do they crave?

Let's take a look.


If you're interested in the trends that will impact your foodservice program the most this year, download our e-report today!

 


ETHNIC FOODS

If Gen Z is the most diverse and multicultural generation in our nation's history, it goes without saying our college dining centers should reflect that. Additionally, college and university campuses are often filled with international students and faculty, giving on-campus dining facilities a greater reason to include ethnic and multi-cultural menu options. Flavor trends will certainly change from year to year, but the fact they're becoming more diverse will not.

PLANT-BASED FOODS

Gen Z is eating healthier for themselves and the world at large. They're looking for better ways to engage in sustainable practices, and food choices are a large part of those efforts. From salad bars to meatless burgers, college and university foodservice directors enjoy a growing list of products and ingredients that make it easier to provide meat-free meals. Plant-based or vegan menus also assist in keeping food cost at a reasonable level. Animal proteins are typically more expensive than plants and plant-based menus are better for the planet.

SUSTAINABILITY

Yes, we just mentioned sustainability to some degree by mentioning plant-based meals, and yes, we've already talked about sustainability on college and university campuses in a previous blog, but we cannot overstate how important sustainable practices are to Generation Z. From fresh and local sourcing, to sustainable seafood and antibiotic-free proteins, this generation cares about clean, sustainable food more than any in history.

A SENSE OF COMMUNITY

Though some say Gen Z is more concerned with a quality product than a quality experience, when it comes to dining, experiences still matter. Eating isn't just about feeling full or accessing nourishment; it's about finding a place to unwind, to socialize, and having a sense of community, an important aspect of college life that can often be so difficult to find for those who are new to campus.

"There's school or work and there's home, but how do you create this kind of third-place getaway?" asks Costel Coca, a design principal at Anaheim-based Webb Foodservice Design in an article in Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazine. "That's what companies like Starbucks have done so effectively, and that's where much of college and university dining is headed," he says. "When we start thinking about kitchens and foodservice, we're now starting with the experience and the story we want to tell in the facility before getting to its functional aspects. It's about a couple of key factors. One is a desire to create a neighborhood vibe, and that's being done, in part, via micro restaurants. We're designing restaurants more than we are food stations, and there's a heightened focus on the aesthetic value of the facility."

TECHNOLOGY

Generation Z is one of the digital natives, essentially meaning they were raised with smartphones from the very beginning. They've been "connected" their entire lives. With this level of technology usage comes an expectation that technology should make our lives easier, and this mentality extends to foodservice. From mobile ordering to convenient pick-up, the next generations expect technology to play a major role in how they eat. Sustainability is an important college and university foodservice trend. Would you like to learn about more relevant trends? Download our free 2019 Foodservice Trends Guide to see the other trends impacting our industry.

Demographics is just one of many factors that's already impacting college and university foodservice.  Be sure to download your copy of our e-report that lists the top trends you can expect in the 2019-2020 school year.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched six other trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!

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4 Ways to Make Your College Foodservice Program More Sustainable

4 Ways to Make Your College Foodservice Program More Sustainable

Sustainability is not only popular amongst today's college-aged students; it's also an easy way to save money.

Sustainability is often seen as being more complicated than it really is.  Bottom line, the less we waste, the more we save. That goes for our reputations as well as our wallets.

More than ever, younger demographics of students are interested in foodservice that's not just good for their bodies. They're looking for foodservice that's good for the environment as well. A trip across campus at your old alma mater may look the same in some ways, but step into the student union dining hall and it might look totally different.

Today, colleges and universities have a wide range of foodservice delivery components. When properly combined, they can produce a process that helps create a more sustainable foodservice program.  The University of Michigan is a great example.  Their foodservice department is actively incorporating various sustainable practices with the goal to become carbon-neutral in 10 years.

While it's great to set the bar really high like this, it requires extensive planning and a great deal of patience to work a 10-year plan.  However, there's always some low-hanging fruit that's ripe for the taking and easy to grab too.  Here are some practical tips that you can immediately implement to help your college and university foodservice department become more sustainable right away:

FOOD WASTE

Food waste is by far one of the most important foodservice trends of 2019. As Americans, we waste roughly 40 percent of our entire food supply, and this is no different on our college campuses. Students are leading the way on many of these initiatives. Some prime areas to begin exploring college foodservice sustainability include programs that use sophisticated menu management systems to assist in forecasting, purchasing and production. Some software even measures and monitors food waste production in the dish room. Check out these food waste reduction resources from the Environmental Protection Agency for more ideas.

BUYING LOCAL

Many college and university operators buy local for many sustainable reasons, often to decrease the distances required to transport food.  Trucking and shipping not only add a layer of cost to ingredients, but they also add carbon to our atmosphere. More than ever in the history of college and university foodservice, operators are sourcing ingredients closer to campus from local farmers, ranchers and artisans, and in some cases, ingredients are grown or raised on campus.

CLEAN INGREDIENTS

Foods grown sustainably are often organic which means they're almost always antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and pesticide-free. Are there additional costs associated with better, cleaner ingredients? Of course, but students are driving these demands and they're also willing to pay the difference when they know they're helping contribute to sustainable efforts.

“When budgets are tight or there are pressures to raise revenues or save costs, it’s best to start with menu engineering,” says Shawn LaPean, a food consultant at Blendid, a manufacturer of autonomous robotic kiosks that prepare and serve custom blended beverages.  “For instance, instead of serving a 4 ounce burger, consider serving a 3 ounce burger to ensure you maintain a perception of value, whether you manage an ‘all-you-can-eat’ or a cash operation.”  Shawn further states that changing the portions slightly without lowering the value sometimes enables operators to afford to include sustainable and organic products on their menus instead of conventional products.  He also says that “sustainable and organic products from local suppliers is of primary importance to customers.”

UTILITIES & FACILITIES

The fourth main component to sustainability involves the amounts of utilities it takes to complete a service. Operators are looking to continuously improve the efficiency of every aspect of their operations - from water and gas, to electricity and refrigerant, the quantities you use impact the world as well as your wallet.

Foodservice is one of the largest consumers of energy over any other type of operation, and that's why foodservice equipment and supplies are so critical in reducing usage levels of our valuable resources. From on-demand ventilation, to energy-efficient blenders, a serious examination of the equipment used in a college or university kitchen can help reduce utility bills. There are many other ideas like these detailed in an article in Community College Daily.

Sustainability is an important college and university foodservice trend. Would you like to learn about more relevant trends? Download our free 2019 Foodservice Trends Guide to see the other trends impacting our industry.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched 7 foodservice trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy of this quick resource guide today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!