NACUFS’ leaders are of the belief that, in part, due to the COVID shock to the system and a chronic challenge with attracting and retaining great talent, which COVID pushed to crisis levels, a paradigm shift will likely take place in the foodservice industry, including collegiate dining. Therefore, NACUFS has engaged a Florida International University academic research team with expertise in foodservice and consumer behavior to conduct research into the future of collegiate dining. The Campus Dining: 2030 and Beyond research project is a 360-degree review of institutional foodservice with a major focus on the collegiate environment. The goal of the review is to identify opportunities and challenges expected to confront collegiate dining in 2030 and beyond. The project does not set the strategic direction of NACUFS, that is determined by the NACUFS Board of Trustees.
NACUFS has proactively sponsored this research to ensure that our members have additional data, information, and knowledge that will allow them to make more informed, sound and forward-thinking foodservice system design decisions. The project involves an innovative approach which marries pure academic research to practical applications through the employment of a think tank process, coupled with standard, primary qualitative and quantitative research techniques. The resulting data will be analyzed to identify possible future operating strategies, which will be distilled into recommendations.
Although labor and efficiency challenges are the catalysts for the research project, NACUFS theorizes that a comprehensive examination of options to address the challenge and define or inform a new future will require, at a minimum, an exploration and consideration of technology, including automation, cobots and robots; human resource issues, including an examination of the needs and wants of tomorrow’s workforce; building/facility design, including front and back of the house; menu design; and post-COVID consumer behavior, including attitudes toward consumer behavior and choice. Further, NACUFS looks to better understand what impediments may need to be addressed by the industry, along with options that might be employed to overcome these impediments. The project output will take into consideration foreseen labor challenges and prepare the foodservice industry for an unpredictable future by helping operators re-design their foodservice systems, thereby ensuring efficiencies and operations that are optimally placed to meet the evolving customer needs and expectations.
The project will culminate in several deliverables benefiting NACUFS members. The deliverables include:
- A publication specifically for campus foodservice operators. This publication will include specific strategic recommendations on each identified interest area. It will also include research findings and potential implementation actions/solutions based on all three research phases.
- A one-day symposium which will share an overview of the research. At this symposium, the results will be presented, and interactive sessions will be used for learning and exploration purposes.
- Peer reviewed academic journal articles, pending acceptance for publication.
The Advisory Board
The Advisory Board, comprised of collegiate foodservice industry leaders, is intentionally diverse and serves the Florida International University research team to ensure the project is inclusive of many viewpoints. Similar to generally accepted strategy development methods, the board exists to ensure that the research/research design considers the immediate environment as well as the broader environment or context. Ultimately, the research design, including the protocols and methodology decisions, will be determined by the research team, not the advisory board. To learn more about the members of the Campus Dining: 2030 and Beyond Advisory Board, click here.
The Research Team
The project is being undertaken by the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, Florida International University. The Principal Investigator is Andrew Moreo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Director of Research and the Co-Principal Investigator is Lisa Cain, Ph.D., Associate Professor (Consumer Behavior and Marketing). The Principal Investigators are supported by a research team and project management personnel from the Dean’s Office. The research team will include professors in the fields of foodservice, organizational behavior, consumer behavior, and information technology. To learn more about the members of the research team, click here.
Phase one of the research project launched late fall 2022. This initial qualitative research will help inform refinement to the research protocol and be used to design the survey instrument(s) used in the quantitative phase of the research.
Phase two of the research is expected to be launched in early 2023. This phase will utilize quantitative research techniques, including random sampling methodology. It is expected that the quantitative research phase will be concluded by the summer of 2023.
Phase three of this project is a think tank. This qualitative research component is expected to take place in fall 2023. Using innovative design, a diverse group of think tank participants will engage in facilitated dialogue as the researchers work to identify practical applications based on the data and information gathered during earlier research phases.
Finally, the results will be published in a publication specifically for campus foodservice operators and submitted for publication in academic journals. They will also be shared at a symposium that includes opportunities for learning and exploration.
Chartwells Higher Education, Sodexo, and US Foods have contributed a portion of the costs to NACUFS to support the project. Their contributions will not impact the research outcomes. NACUFS is the research sponsor and has unilaterally engaged Florida International University.