Creating memorable and valuable food experiences

The new academic year is a fine opportunity to optimise food and service offers on campus. Professor David Russell and Charlotte Harbour explain all

The new academic year presents a collection of prospects for our students: the beginning or continuation of a course, a new living location and an array of unique opportunities to make new friends and lifelong connections. These facets are often a given when entering university for the new semester, and traditionally a huge draw for the admission into higher education in the first instance. However, behind the new-found freedom and academic engagement – is there an opportunity for students to develop on a personal level in relation to their health, wellbeing and welfare?

Unequivocally, we say yes – here’s why.

Health typically starts at the dinner table (at least that’s what we think) and university outlets have a significant opportunity to positively influence what ends up on our students’ plates, especially in catered accommodation. You’ve heard us say it time and time again, that the provision of nutrient dense food and beverage is vital for overall wellbeing in regard to physical and mental health outcomes. In practical terms, this means green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, pulses, wholegrains, ethical free-range eggs and RSPCA-assured sourced meat and fish. We believe this message wholeheartedly and consider the new academic year an excellent opportunity to optimise the food and service offers within outlets if change is required.

Professor David Russell 

We can encourage the consumption of healthy food and beverage offers by tapping into trend data and delivering provisions that are aligned with what our students want. Logging into social media to demonstrates the ever-evolving proliferation of items such as: ‘Buddha’ bowls, poke bowls, ferments, adaptogens, vegan alternatives and paleo muffins. Whilst we are not suggesting that vegan ashwaganda smoothie bowls become mainstays in the university kitchen, we do believe that there is room to incorporate a couple of key health trends that would engender significant interest from our students and remain commercially and operationally viable. Practical examples would be the offer of fresh smoothies, large green salads, chia puddings, vegan soups and grain-free snack bars or muffins. There may also be opportunities to sell traditional ‘health’ foods in selected outlets.

It goes without saying that the incorporation of educational initiatives in regard to nutrition and health is valued at the beginning of an academic year, especially for students who will be new to cooking and preparing meals. Education paired with opportunities and key catering trends will deliver memorable and valuable food experiences this semester.

Happy September!

The Russell Partnership is a consultancy specialising within Catering, Conferencing, Events and Leisure Markets: russellpartnership.com