Earth Day garden - We launched an Herban Veggie Garden on our patio connected to our cafeteria in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich. We have about 15 planters of herbs and vegetables that we are able to harvest and use during our peak times. This initiative went along with our other sustainable efforts and will give our chefs great organic ingredients year-round.
Save coffee grounds - We save our coffee grounds in 5-gallon buckets. We use the grounds for mulch, as a medium to grow mushrooms, and for compost in our gardens. They are a natural insect repellent and they smell great.
Get buy-in - In order to get buy-in for breakfast in the classroom, there is an incredible amount of planning done with stakeholders to ensure that we can show the value for this and to get their thoughts and see if we’ve missed anything.
Host a chef’s table with the president - We do a monthly “Lunch with the President.” Our president, Dr. Robert O. Davies, who started here last July, is very student-oriented. So we suggested this as a means of him connecting with students in a more informal setting. It’s a version of a chef’s table, with a maximum of 15 students. We post a link on our home page about two weeks prior to each event where students can go and sign up.
Napkin notes - These are anonymous notes that the students write me on napkins and post to bulletin boards in the dining halls, and I respond to them twice a week. The notes run the gamut from “I want a new salad dressing” all the way to a request for mood lighting in the dining hall. From serious to funny to complimentary to criticisms, anything can be written on these notes.
Play off an acronym - Our 23 communities were each asked to develop a recipe item using our acronym, ACTS, in the name. A panel of eight staff members tried all the different entries and chose a winner: Apricot Cinnamon Toffee Squares. These are now provided at our marketing luncheons in a little box with our logo. The residents love these.
Paleo Challenge - For a healthy and affordable meal option, we began offering a paleo menu in March. Each meal is served with a protein, two vegetable servings and a bottle of water or iced tea for $7. To capitalize on the menu’s popularity, in May we invited guests to participate in a 30-day Paleo Challenge.
Gluten-conscious decisions - When it comes to grains, a lot of our kids are gluten free. A lot of them say they don’t eat bread because it’s bad for them. We’re starting to see grains impact us from a dietary or lifestyle choice. We took a 12-inch tortilla and dropped it to an 8-inch tortilla. We’ve made our buns a little bit smaller—instead of 4-inch, they’re 3.5-inch.
Social media coffee crawl - We held a contest on Twitter at the end of the fall 2013 semester to raise awareness and sales at our coffee shop locations. The contest was called Campus Coffee Crawl. Followers had from Nov. 4th through the 26th to visit four of our on-campus coffee shops.