NACUFS National Conference: A Recap of Our Virtual Experience

Ricca Design Studios recently attended the 2020 NACUFS National Conference, our first entirely virtual conference. A virtual exhibit booth was included as part of the fully online conference, a wholly new and unique experience for us! Although we certainly missed connecting with our friends and colleagues in person, we appreciate the lengths NACUFS went through to ensure exhibitors could still participate.


Ricca's booth integrated the roundtable discussions and encompassing blog series that we did on the impacts of COVID-19 and collegiate dining. During the NACUFS Conference, we hosted two additional roundtable discussions. Our roundtable participants included dining services leaders from Appalachian State University, College of Wooster, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Rhode Island School of Design, Swarthmore College, Tufts University, and the University of Maryland. Below are various plans and ideas reiterated by our institutional participants multiple times.


1. Support Local Businesses!

  • Many schools are partnering with local restaurants to provide food trucks on camps. This provides additional service points to spread out demand, while also supporting struggling restaurants.

  • Supporting farmers by packaging and selling “farmer’s markets” with meal kits for faculty, staff, and students with kitchens.

2. Use your catering kitchens as “ghost kitchens” for increased Grab-n-Go meals.


3.Reduce demand on large dining halls

  • Expanding meal-swipes to include some or all retail locations.

  • Blast-freeze pre-portioned meals for students to re-heat in their dorms.

  • Adjust menus to utilize more local ingredients (easier to source) and offer student “top favorites” in multiple locations.

  • Expand pop-up locations for Grab-n-Go pickup and extend hours of operation.

4. Employee safety is just as important as student safety!

  • Schedule employees in “teams” to limit daily contacts.

  • Issuing higher-grade PPE to staff that comes into contact with students: N95 masks or face-shields.

  • Make training videos to orient staff on the “new normal.”

  • Some schools have been able to keep staff employed during the summer by offering other opportunities on campus (painting, groundskeeping, etc.)

5. Virtual queuing apps, reservation apps and/or assigned dining times are limiting lines in major dining areas.


6. Limit third-party delivery on campus to reduce potential exposure.


Each Roundtable that we've held this summer has been both hugely beneficial to the colleges and universities participating, and to us internally at Ricca. The Round Tables have allowed dining services leaders to test ideas, gain invaluable feedback, hear what other universities are doing, and ask questions - all critical steps in crafting their responsive plans for the Fall.


If your school or company is interested in learning more about the impacts COVID-19 is having on dining or would like to participate in the next Round Table discussion that we host, please contact Laura Mueller (lmueller@ricca.com) to learn more.

If you missed our Round Table sessions at NACUFS and would like to hear what was said, please use the links below to listen. Session One included participants from Appalachian State and Tufts University. Session Two included College of Wooster, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Rhode Island School of Design, Swarthmore College, and the University of Maryland. Ricca’s Phillip Landgraf and Kerri Fitzgerald moderated both sessions.


Round One - Ricca Design Studios, Appalachian State and Tufts University



Round Two - Ricca Design Studios, College of Wooster, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Rhode Island School of Design, Swarthmore College, and the University of Maryland.


#riccadesignstudios #creatingwhatsnext

Ricca Design Studios | Foodservice Design Consultants | United States | Contact Us | LinkedIn