Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

JUL 2017

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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18 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • JULY 2017 operator's opinion Q&A with Ted Faulkner How Virginia Tech balances finances with exceptional dining. We're contributing to controlling rising educational costs and contributing at high levels to the student experience and building community while maintain- ing an exceptional value to the campus community. By Donna Boss A s the director of dining services for Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., Ted Faulkner oversees a $64 million budget. Campus dining includes 47 food concepts in 10 locations with only one all-you-care-to-eat platform, plus two food trucks. Between 14,000 and 16,000 meals are served per week, plus roughly 215,000 retail food transactions. Faulkner manages a staff of 2,200 full-time employees, 340 part-time and 1,560 student employees. A 2017 IFMA Silver Plate Award winner, Faulkner's foodservice career spans 42 years, 19 of them at Virginia Tech. He remains an active member of Virginia Tech's Hotel and Tourism Management advisory board, in addition to holding a position as an adjunct instructor of practice in the Virginia Tech Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management. He also serves as a member of the campus development committee. Here, Faulkner discusses how Virginia Tech provides students an over-the-top dining experience while keeping the dining services department on budget. FE&S: What are the key challenges in dining services? TF: Dining Services is continuously expected to make more contributions to the university. We're a state university and state support has eroded for academics, so the university looks to auxiliaries to make up the difference. At the same time, dining services is expected to provide exceptional dining experiences. In essence, we're con- tributing to controlling rising educational costs and contributing at high levels to the student experience and building commu- nity while maintaining an exceptional value to the campus community. FE&S: How do you achieve the ideal of doing more with less and ensuring value exceeds cost? TF: We have increased the cost of dining plans because we must balance the budget. We've also increased efficiencies. We've had to be very proactive versus reactive to make changes. For example, to accom- modate enrollment growth, we entered into an agreement with Chick-fil-A, one of seven retail, national-branded concept partners, for a breakfast promotion. In the fall of 2017 we'll roll out a smoothie program that uses a recipe without refined sugar and calls for Greek yogurt and fresh fruit in response to students' requests. FE&S: How do you appeal to a more food-focused student population? TF: Gen Zs and Millennials, they'll try anything. They're fearless with what they are willing to try and expose themselves to, which is why limited-time-only offerings are very popular on restaurant menus. In addition, we have more international and out-of-state students because of our ero- sion in state funding, which means more student diversity. Last year, we started broadening our menus to make them more global. We focus on diversity and inclusion through food and Ted Faulkner Director of Dining Services Virginia Tech Blacksburg, Va. www.dining.vt.edu Photo by Jud Froelich

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