A college is a rich resource for a dining service and one of the hallmarks of ISU Dining is its close working relationships with other sectors of the ISU community. Dining Director Nancy Levandowski works closely with the Dept. of Residence and maintains an advisory board of key campus figures who receive regular updates on ISU Dining’s projects, activities and results.
ISU Dining also employs more than 1,400 student workers. To reduce turnover, as well as to foster morale and improve service, the department converted an unused dining facility into a training and recruitment center.
Unusually, this center is managed by student staff under the direction of Diane Schmidt. They hire, process, orient, train and schedule the workers in an elaborate system that has reduced turnover by 30% and fostered a new sense of team spirit in the student staff while giving the students' invaluable real-world experience.
The engagement with students also unearths unexpected but valuable resources. One former student worker with an interest in multimedia produced a popular video promoting one of the dining venues; another’s talent in photography produced the images of food used in ISU Dining’s marketing.
Other resources include campus departments: an honors class in sustainable agriculture helped ISU Dining launch a composting program that was promoted by materials developed by students in the College of Design using a plan developed by a School of Business marketing class.
Another class is looking at expansion of the ISU Bio Bus Club into developing a biodiesel program using waste oil from ISU Dining venues, perhaps to drive the food trucks Levandowski is planning (see main story).
ISU includes schools of hospitality, culinary science and design, providing ISU Dining with a pool of young talent and potential recruits. Hospitality & Culinary students are engaged in planning and pulling off catered events, and graduates support a number of managerial positions in the department.