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College of Health and Human Sciences

Residence hall dining wins Gold Award

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mark Edwards

When it comes to what's for dinner -- and breakfast and lunch, too -- students at Kansas State University's residence halls are being served the best.

That's according to the National Association of College and University Food Services, which has presented K-State's housing and dining services with its Gold Award in the category of residence hall dining -- single stand-alone concept/outlet for large schools.

The award is part of the association's 37th annual Loyal E. Horton Dining Awards.

"The competition is a place for schools to compete and showcase the best of what they offer to their students," said Mark Edwards, director of Derby Dining Center.

‘Everything we do for students’

"The single stand-alone category was the most important to K-State, as it represents everything we do for students: every menu and menu item we offer, every special meal event, every degree of choice we offer students. In this category, schools are competing to determine overall depth and breadth of services and menus provided in their dining program."

Competition is offered in three groupings: small schools, medium schools and large schools. Schools are put into a group based on their enrollment and food service revenues.

What makes the win even more impressive for K-State, Edwards said, is that the university was originally entered in the competition for medium schools but was reclassified as a large school.

Large school category

"K-State was competing against schools double or triple its size; some of these schools have more students who live in their campus housing than our total student enrollment," he said.

Finishing second in the single stand-alone concept/outlet category was Iowa State University, with Harvard University coming in third.

For the category, schools are judged on special portfolios that must include sample menus, examples of recipes used, how nutritional awareness was promoted to diners, and more. To earn a Gold Award, a school had to earn at least 90 percent of available points for that category.

"K-State's portfolio was a visual feast for the judges," Edwards said, crediting Terry Gleue and Mariel Edwards of housing and dining services with its creation and design.

The 26-page layout not only included menus, but appetizing photos -- taken by K-State students -- of menu items and materials like table tents and posters used to promote special meals.

Edwards also credits the collaboration and synergy of K-State housing and dining staff in earning the Gold Award. Core menus are prepared by Mary Molt, assistant director of K-State dining services. The menus are then critiqued and evaluated at weekly meetings of the staff of K-State's three dining centers and adjusted to reflect changes.

Serving more than 6,000 meals a day

K-State serves around 6,300 total meals a day between its three dining centers: Derby, Kramer and Van Zile.

Edwards thinks K-State's degree of choice in its menus swayed the judges.

"Our menus feature everyday items, things like hamburgers and salads that we serve every day; classic items that help bring a sense of home to our diners; and cyclical items, such as seasonal foods," Edwards said. "But we also offer monotony breakers like special-theme dinners each week that transform our three dining centers into other places, like tropical getaways. These meals can range from fun foods to authentic world cuisine experiences to everything in between."

Menus also are developed with vegetarians in mind and to meet tastes of the many international students who live in K-State's residence halls.

K-State will now compete against Richmond University for the grand prize in the single stand-alone concept-outlet category. Richmond won in the medium school group; there was no Gold Award winner in the small school group. The winner will be announced at the national conference of the National Association of College and University Food Services, July 7-10, in San Jose, Calif.

In addition to the Gold Award, K-State also earned an honorable mention in the residence hall dining-theme dinner category. The award was for a special dinner that had a sustainability theme, featuring food items coming from not more than 150 miles around Manhattan.

The mission of the National Association of College and University Food Services is to promote the highest quality of food service on school, college and university campuses by providing members with educational and training opportunities, technical assistance, scholarships, industry information and research. The association has more than 600 institutional members and more than 425 industry members.

Prepared by K-State communications and marketing

This article was posted on Thursday, May 20, 2010, and is filed under Hospitality Management.