National Conference Experiential Learning



Amplify your learning experience by participating in the Experiential Learning Sessions. This all-new program will enable attendees to engage in a new space or participate in an activity while learning. With a variety of experiences offered on July 15 and 16, select the session that best fits into your learning objective.


On-Site Sessions
Animal Proteins and/or Plant Proteins — Rebalancing the Food System 

Remember everything in moderation? Our food system is very complex. It has evolved over thousands of years, and the conversation about our food system has changed rapidly in the last two decades. It is important to understand varying perspectives and make good decisions about how we can be great stewards of our food system. This discussion will share perspectives on animal protein and plant-based protein. Experts from each field will share insight into their respective industries while culinarians and nutrition experts will share their real-life experiences on how these proteins may impact the consumers we serve.

Christie Fleming, president and COO, The ISH Food Company  

Barry Greenberg, executive chef, University of Iowa (Saturday)

Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO, Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist at ChampagneNutrition®

Tracey MacRae, assistant director of culinary and systems, University of Washington (Friday)

Colin Woodall, CEO, National Cattlemen's Beef Association

Session Handouts


Hands-on Teaching Kitchen Experience and Sustainable Food Labeling 

Today we are seeing a generation of students who consider their environmental value before making their purchasing decision. As dining programs commit to social responsibility as a top priority, we need to go beyond the plate and incorporate sustainability as a singular program by creating a sustainable culture within every facet of the student’s academic journey. Come immerse yourself in a hands-on Innovation Lab where you can be part of a multi-experience room where visitors can see how sustainability is woven throughout the culinary program, student experience, and the technology with which they interface. Help cultivate within a modern indoor farmscape and take those ingredients to craft a low-carbon dish within the Teaching Kitchen. Connect with sustainability partners and experts in an interactive lounge while refueling with snacks and coffee. Individuals attending this experiential learning session will have the chance to bring one of these experiences back to their campus.

Presented by: Chartwells Higher Education


Experience Simple, Easy, and Delicious Ways Preparing Plant-Based Meals 

Experience a delicious meal service prepared by expert chefs from three companies as they showcase the progress made in serving students plant-based products. During this session, the chefs will share great recipes, their real-life applications, and an interactive food preparation demonstration using the newest and most innovative products. Session participants will be served a multi-course meal in sample sizes to smell and taste the creations.

Chef John DaLoia, The ISH Food Company

Chef Zach Gochin, Violife

Chef David Yeo, Pulmuone


Serving Students with Specific Dietary Needs: An Empathic Approach 

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.  When we have empathy for guests with food allergies, we are more likely to carry out the proper steps to prepare their meal safely.  This experiential learning session will take you through three activities to build on your empathy for guests with food allergies. First, create a plate based on an assigned food allergy amongst a spread of tantalizing foods. As you enjoy your snack, you will view a documentary clip that explores the experience of eating out with a food allergy and the anxiety that accompanies guests with food allergies. And lastly, watch a live stream of a  student panel discussion, with representation from three universities across the nation, as they describe navigating life on campus with food allergies. 

Gina Forster, assistant director of nutrition, The Ohio State University 

Alice Ma, registered dietitian, Washington State University 

Jessica Tones, program director of nutrition and marketing, Carnegie Mellon University Dining

Lauren Smith, director of nutrition and wellness, North Carolina State University


The Ten Skills of the Service Superhero 

What if you could REimagine the way your staff is inspired? During this experiential learning session, you will create a P.L.A.N (Purpose, Language, Actions, Narrative.), interactively REaffirm your reason, explore ways to engage employees to fully invest in themselves, and REthink how your organization can reveal its story in every interaction, the same way as Disney. Join Louie, who was responsible for training at the Disney University, often referred to as “the guy that makes Disney work outside of Disney”, for a lively, humorous and productive session.  

Louie Gravance, owner, L Gravance Creative Concepts

Session Handouts

Off-Site Sessions
A Visit to the Fruit Farm  

Cherry pies, apricot jam, or strawberry shortcakes are many of the great dishes we enjoy in the United States.  Colorful and nutritious fruits that are used to make great classic and modern menu items have great stories.  Take some time to enjoy the fresh farm air and learn about what it takes to grow some of the fruits.  At Walter’s Fruit Ranch, farmers work all year long to grow fruit while they have fun. This experiential learning session will highlight the small nuances and large challenges of running a small family-owned farm. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear stories behind many of the fruits some may take for granted. Ride the wagon while you learn about the plant life cycle of many of the fruits, what it takes to maintain them, and what are some of the varietals within each of the fruits. Attendees will have the great opportunity to interact directly with the farmers and appreciate their lifestyle.

Recommended to wear:  comfortable clothing and shoes. Portions of the tour may be walking and there will be uneven ground.


Best in Class Meat Processing & Portion Control  

Every ingredient in our food system has a story. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 27 billion pounds of beef are commercially produced per year in the U.S. This experiential session will give you an up-close perspective of the beef production industry. Attendees will learn about best practices within the meat processing and portion control industry that provide best-in-class product quality, consistency, and food safety. Attendees will learn many facts about the beef industry and how science is used to enhance the safety and quality of beef. Our food system is complex. Each ingredient is delicately connected with many internal and external factors of the food system. Learn how the grain market, fuel cost, weather, and other factors impact the beef industry. 

Recommended to wear: warm clothing or bring a sweater or light jacket. Wear closed-toe shoes. (Required: Face mask per State law; Restriction: No open-toed shoes or high heels.) 


Breaking Bread: What It Takes to Make Bread  

According to USDA, wheat ranks third among U.S. field crops in planted acreage, production, and gross farm receipts, behind corn and soybeans. The state of Washington is a major wheat producing state in the U.S. This experiential education session will give you the opportunity to visit with wheat farmers and learn about wheat production. Shepherd’s Grain, a farmer-owned company, mills sustainable flour from wheat grown on thirty-eight local family farms throughout the Northwest and Midwest.  Farmers use no-till, direct seed farming practices to restore the soil that was once traditionally tilled. This experiential learning session will give you the opportunity to visit with wheat farmers and learn about wheat production.  Attendees will meet the farmers, feel and smell the soil, and venture out into the fields to see how the wheat is planted, grown and harvested. 

Recommended to wear: closed-toe shoes, long pants, sunscreen, and a hat. 


Experience the Historic Gonzaga Campus Dining 

On February 2, 1959, Sodexo and Gonzaga University joined in partnership to offer contracted foodservice out of a tiny, basic on-campus dining hall. Sixty-three years later, the partnership continues, but the operation is no longer tiny nor basic. Join us on a tour of the Zag Dining Food Operations. Explore the Hemmingson Building, a multi-million-dollar foodservice and student center and home to the Circulus Omnium Gonzaga-orum (aka the COG) dining hall, the heart of our university dining. See our high-performing local and national branded operations, view The Bulldog Pub, a full-service restaurant and pub, explore the rooftop hydroponic greenhouse that sits above our premier multi-level dining hall, and learn about campus sustainability efforts. Meet some of the dining management staff and enjoy the beauty of the historic Gonzaga Campus. 

Recommended to wear: comfortable clothing and shoes. This is a walking tour. Please expect a 10-15 minute walk to and from campus along the Centennial Trail.


Food Distribution Done Well  

This exciting tour will highlight best practices for product quality and safety, convenience in your kitchen, and efficiency on your menu! Join in and learn about must-have measures in food distribution from inbound to delivery – designed to maximize the integrity, quality, and freshness of products. See some of our warehouse technology in action and experience a kitchen demo showcasing versatile ingredients that reduce labor, ideal for college and university settings.

Recommended to wear: warm clothing or bring a sweater or light jacket. Wear closed-toe shoes. (Restriction: No open-toed shoes or high heels.)