The National Association of College and University Food Services (NACFUS) gathered members for its 2017 national conference in Nashville, Tennessee, July 12-15.  Two team members represented Terra State Community College for the first time at the event.  Holly Hoffman, Manager of Conference and Event Services, and Amber Sidoti, Coordinator of Dining Services, found the conference to be a wealth of information that will benefit the college.

In order to optimize their time at the conference, Hoffman and Sidoti focused on different areas of the food service world.  Hoffman honed in on presentations centering on customer service, supervising, training and cost-benefits.  “I had the opportunity to even speak with the presenters in between sessions,” Hoffman said.  “For example, I talked in-depth about the importance of the pictures of your food offerings in marketing your facility.”

Sidoti, on the other hand, went for micro-market and the “grab and go” type menu offerings.  “I was able to learn about how other institutions did things with convenience stores.  This will be a big help in planning for the new student housing facility.”  As for the “grab and go” service, Sidoti says this is what students are now looking for.  “They want convenience, especially for snacks.”

Both will be implementing some of the skills and concepts they learned while at the conference.  “I am going to use many of the ideas I garnered from the train-the-trainer sessions,” Hoffman points out.  “I learned some skills on how you work with your employees I want to apply.”  Sidoti is going to focus on food offerings.  “The grab-and-go is my real focus.  Yogurt and parfaits are really big now and I would like to do something with that.  I also have some coffee ideas that I heard about.  Cold brews seem to be an item that we want to try in the Tree Tops Café.”

Hoffman hopes to be able to continue to send someone every year to the conference.  “We would like to rotate between managers and supervisors to ensure that we get at least one person there every year,” said Hoffman.  “We learned so much.  It is definitely worth it to have someone from Terra State there every year.”