UMass Amherst is the 2nd largest food service program in the country -- with 16,500 students on various meal plans -- serving over 45,000 meals daily. After ranking in the top ten of Princeton Review’s Best 377 Colleges in 2012, UMass was named #3 “Best Campus Food” in the 2013 edition. With a mission to serve sustainable, healthy and delicious food, UMass Amherst sought to become SPE-certified in its quest to become better year to year.
- Four dining commons serving a wide variety of cuisines to students
- Alignment of food preparation and ingredient recommendations to fit UMass scale and capabilities
- Marketing and education to staff and students re: what is SPE Certified, how does it fit into my lifestyle and can it benefit me?
SPE Certified’s approach was split into two phases. Phase 1 included:
- Comprehensive review and analysis of 200 UMass recipes against SPE criteria
- Recommendations for recipe modification for over 50 recipes including sodium and fat reductions and preparation adjustments
- Incorporation of recipes into UMass cycle menu for use over Spring Semester 2013
- Comprehensive, customized marketing, public relations and social media campaign
- Training for staff and 2-day launch to raise awareness of SPE Certified throughout each dining commons
Phase 2 expanded the program in Fall Semester 2013 and included:
- Addition of approximately 100 new recipes developed by SPE Certified
- 3-day culinary training of kitchen staff on new recipes
- Refresh training for servers
- Onsite support and SPE certified dish sample during 2-day event at start of new semester
- Continued marketing and social media support
With SPE Certified’s iconic “squiggly red” logo, UMass students are now able to easily identify dishes that they understand to be nutritionally balanced, sustainably sourced and delicious. As a result of Phase 1, UMass added a unique SPE meal for every lunch and dinner in the menu cycle. While the SPE option made up only one-third of options in the main line of the dining commons, SPE dishes were chosen 60% of time by students. With the expansion of the program during Phase 2, UMass now offers 2 SPE certified options at the main line in addition to meals at other formats in their dining commons.
In a survey comparing dining hall food during Spring Semester 2013 vs. year ago, UMass students expressed a +12% increase in satisfaction with healthy choices, a +21% increase in satisfaction with taste and a +10% increase in satisfaction with dining options overall. And a leading college website, www.universityprimetime.com, ranked the top 50 schools in 2013 based on food, with UMass Amherst ascending to the #1 position!
Infographic: Are Healthy Meals Important to Students?
Infographic: Student Response to the SPE Certified Rollout (Year 2)
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VP, Culinary Nutrition and Sustainability