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Interest Sessions 

Note: Sessions and schedule below are subject to change. Stay tuned for more updates! 

Talent Management Track

Culinary & Nutrition Track 

Marketing, Communication, and Campus Engagement Track

Financial, Operations & Business Administration Track


Friday, March 1 

Maximizing Information in the Operating Performance Benchmarking Survey 

This session will show attendees how to use the information in the newly revised NACUFS Operations Performance Benchmarking Survey (OPBS) to prepare a report summary and cost benefit analysis. Examples of how to tie in services provided by your operation with the overall educational mission of the university will be also discussed. There will be time for questions regarding the completion of the OPBS.

The Powers of Nice Talk! 

The Power of Nice Talk" will provide the NACUFS audience with knowledge and skills that will help them understand the power AND effects of words, vocal inflection, facial expressions and other types of language when working in any area that needs people to achieve the goal. This workshop will incorporate some of the work of Linda Thaler and Robin Koval who wrote the book, The Power of Nice, where they show that “nice” companies have lower employee turnover, lower recruitment costs, and higher productivity. Participants will also be given the opportunity to see workshop leader’s role-play situations participants suggest. Through secret situation submission, the presenters and/or volunteers from the audience will work through situations in an improv theater format. Through these various presentation methods, it is hoped that participants will enjoy the power and presence of “nice talk” in their organization.

Sustaining a Positive Team Atmosphere

This session will focus on team-building techniques that apply to all areas of management and leadership. Dr. Danny Galyen, Director of Bands at the University of Northern Iowa, will discuss the issues he encountered and had to overcome in attempting to create a team atmosphere among the students and staff of the university's marching band. In changing the culture of the organization to be member-centered, he was able to build enrollment of the band from 156 members to 330 members over a six-year period.

Increasing Efficiency @ MSU Innovating with Rolled Omelets 

This session will be structured in a Case Study format and will focus on how Michigan State University and the American Egg Board Partner to launch the Rolled Omelet Station. The presenters will take you through a series of stages that utilized to implement a successful program: 1. Identify Opportunities to Improve. 2. Ideate on ways to solve inefficiencies. 3. Sketch out a plan, diagram the station, and test recipes. 4. Test in R&D kitchen. 5. Take over omelet station in dining hall and capture structured feedback from students. 6. Tweak and re-test.

Seafood 101

Discussions will revolve around methods for fishing or farming, and the journey from the water to tables. Grading of certain species will be covered, how grading is performed, and what to look for in the product you purchase. The different forms we may receive, or forms buy product in will be shown and how this can affect the yield of what is purchased. The importance of sustainability will be touched on, what is currently being done, and some of the organizations leading the way in these efforts. In order to illustrate, there will be product at this session for visual training purposes.

Being a Pro

Leadership is crucial to your operations success and sustainability, but many of us are not as intentional as we should be in continually honing and developing the skill. However, Chad Rinehart, a northeast Iowa native, has utilized the leadership lessons and strategies that he learned as a Division I athlete and seven years as a professional athlete in the NFL, to become a successful High School Athletic Director. Join Chad in this power session as he covers topics including self-improvement, long-term planning, and how to adjust those plans in stressful environments. You will not regret taking the time to learn from Chad!

Creating a Sustainable Local Food Culture at UNI

For decades, the University of Northern Iowa has been a leader in building the local food economy. From its roots as the founding organization for the "Buy Fresh, Buy Local" campaign, the UNI Local Food Program has worked to develop a local and regional food system that positively impacts the community and beyond. More recently, the UNI Panther Plot was created and provides food to the UNI Dining Centers, and local restaurants and is completely run by students. Please join Eric O’Brien and Jodi Huegerich as they share how these university-led efforts have strengthened the community’s local food initiatives through education, collaboration and economic development.

Saturday, March 2 - Morning Interest Sessions 

A Vision for NACUFS Future

We invite you to join this session and add your voice to a robust conversation about NACUFS’ future. Over the last year, we have had many opportunities to gather feedback from NACUFS members, and are now prepared to present a draft Vision, approved by the board of trustees. Please plan to attend and share your input.

We Develop Leaders

Do you want to reach new heights with Student Employment? Are you looking for new ideas on how to make this happen? A student workforce is critical to running a high-functioning dining operation! Learn valuable techniques that attract, retain and develop today’s Generation Z workforce. Learn how to use the strengths of this generation and how to develop them into transferable skills; qualities that employers are looking for. Create a culture that becomes the envy of others! Not only will this make a struggling dining operation thrive and meet the high demand of students dining at their establishment, it will give those working there an experience that will stay with them for their entire college career and beyond, no matter their career path. Hear about these tried and true techniques from a student management perspective and those that lead them!

Sweet as can Bee!

Do you purchase honey locally? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a beekeeper? This session will put you behind the mask and into the beekeeper experience. Kelli will take the group through a beehive and show how honey is made. She will discuss the different bees that make up a hive, the overall workings of a hive, the lifespan of a bee, the role each bee plays in the hive and the honey making process. In addition, she will provide samples from a few different varieties of honey for people to taste.

Developing an Innovative Student Manager Training Program

This session will provide participants with a blueprint for designing their own Student Manager Training Program. Ohio University has had a formal Student Manager Training Program in place since 1990. Approximately 3,000 students have successfully completed the Student Manager Class and have earned college credit towards their degree. Participants will learn about how Ohio University utilizes its staff to conduct this training program.

The Power of Partnership

Partnerships are not only necessary for your success, but crucial to your operations long term sustainability. In this session, Michigan State University will share how the benefits of a partnership with the Pork Checkoff have reached beyond not only the campus and current students, but to those thinking of enrolling. They will also discuss education for both staff and students, event demonstrations, and product development. Additionally, they will show how you can use free and available resources everyone has at their disposal to build these long-standing relationships.

Making your network work for you!

Networking is more important than ever to everyone. We all have networks - some more formal than others, but all can help us both personally and professionally. In this session, the presenters will share their personal techniques and secrets for growing and having fun in networks. They will talk strategies for both introverts and extroverts and share techniques that one can take back to their campus to use. The session will be a combination of the presenter providing insights to group discussions and interactive participation.

Developing a Dining Center for Generation Z

Gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, kosher, vegetarian…... Avoiding the Freshman 15 …... Fresh food- sustainably sourced…... Sound familiar when you ask your Gen Z students what they want served? How do we all meet the increasing demands of our increasingly diverse populations, while maintaining meal plan affordability? Using a case study of the opening of a new dining center, University of Cincinnati showcases how we enhance our students’ experiences through the new On the Green dining center. Using seven key student dining preferences trends, we’ll help you break through some of the operational challenges to deliver a packed-full dining center.

Transforming Communication

Communication skills, like listening completely and reacting quickly, are crucial to your organization's success! But many of us are not intentionally building those skills. Those who have improvisation instruction have discovered that it transforms the way they communicate. Applied Improvisation has come into his own in the past several years, even being cited in medical journals. In this experiential session, one will learn to listen completely and communicate effectively “in the moment". There will be activities designed to give “aha!" moments, with plenty of ticks and tips that you haven't heard before, that will help you with your professional and personal communication. 

Conversation with Local Producers

Join some local farmers and producers that are partners with UNI. During this Q&A discussion the local producers will talk about their experiences working with institutions, challenges from their perspective of producing locally, and the benefits to purchasing locally. Chad Thomas has developed a business of producing various vegetables, as well as purchasing from other local farmers and distributing local food items to institutional buyers. Bob Howard works with a local dairy in producing yogurt that has expanding their production to various institutions in Iowa and surrounding states.

Saturday, March 2 - Afternoon Interest Sessions 

Creative Solutions to Address Campus Growth

Over the past five years, the University of Cincinnati has experienced significant enrollment growth that has greatly impacted the food services program. Total campus enrollment has grown from 42,500 in 2013 to 46,000 in 2018. Correspondingly meal plans have increased by 37% in that same time period; jumping from 5,100 in 2013 to 7,000 in 2018. UC staff will share how they responded to this rapid growth with creative and fiscally responsible solutions. Some topics include repurposing old concepts, the addition of new concepts, strategic marketing, and the incorporation of Dr. Drew Boyd’s “Inside the Box” approach to problem-solving.

Dietitians in Operations Management: Moving Beyond Traditional Roles / Empathy: The Missing Piece!

From purchasing, to menu planning, to child nutrition and mentoring, Dietitians at Kansas State are involved in every facet of Dining Services Operations. In this program you will get an expert overview of why developing empathy is important for sustaining an effective allergen safety program in University and College Dining operations. This session will review the benefits of blending nutrition experts with daily operations while using innovative menu management systems for tracking nutrition, ingredient information, as well as special diet accommodations. It will also provide details on a new and innovative empathy training programs that involves assigning full-time dining staff a specific allergy and having them prepare a plate for lunch, based on their assigned allergy.

Weekly Inventory Process Food Cost Initiative

Managing your food cost is critical for your operational success. Learn how the Burge Marketplace at the University of Iowa has implemented and utilized a Food Service Suite program to accurately and efficiently manage orders and food cost through the use of a weekly inventory function.

Reach New Heights: Bridge the Gap Between Campus Dining and Academics

In today's environment colleges and universities are looking for partnerships that give students a real-world environment and academic success. It is extremely important a dining department gives more back to the university than just great tasting food! Reaching to new heights in academics is vital to the growth and sustainable efforts of an exceptional dining program. Showing colleges and professors dining can contribute to the student learning process helps solidify the role and mission of an academic institution. This session will provide insight on how Purdue Dining started academic partnerships that have proven vital for Purdue University and the students who eat, live, and learn on campus. Through capstone class projects, internships and labs, PD&C is an important part of the Student Success for credit earning opportunities in the academic environment. You will walk away with creative ideas to bridge the gap between student living and academics. Learn how to create strong academic partnerships on your campus to “reach new heights."

Cooking with Andy 

Join Chef Andy Schumacher as he presents a cooking demonstration, that shows how professional chefs can balance fat and acidity to make food delicious! Learn how different cultures have mastered this fundamental combination and how you can apply this simple idea to improve the quality of your cooking skills. Chef Andy will teach you 3 techniques and why they work that will highlight the balance between fat and acid and who to apply this idea to some fun dishes!

Rethink Waste Handling: The Real Cost and the Technology to Avoid Them

College food service operations manage waste the same way they have for years, consuming thousands of labor hours and using millions of plastic and compostable bags each year. But a new category of trash cans are emerging for “excessive" waste deposit locations that reduce trash bag changes by 80-95%! These front-of-house compactors compact waste at the deposit point and are revolutionizing the way Colleges and Universities allocate their labor resources, and serve their customers. This session will teach the basics of FoH compacting. How it works, what it does for guests, what it does for operators, and what it does for Sustainability. The intent is to show where and how front of house compacting technology can reduce labor resources. Specifically, it will cover the criteria for identifying “excessive" waste points, which are the best problem for this technology to solve. It will teach participants how to quantify the true cost of servicing those waste points, and how to calculate the return on investment from deploying FoH technology.

Download presentations from your favorite interest sessions below: