Keynotes & Learning Sessions




Food Trends, Generation Z and the Future of Almost Everything
Daniel Levine


As a college and university food service professional, knowing what is now isn’t enough – you also need to know what will be, or you will be left behind. Tomorrow's world is looking vastly different from today's, so strap on your jetpack and get ready for an exhilarating “sneak peek” into the contemporary culture of tomorrow. You will be treated to a glimpse of everything that matters – including the future of food, technology, consumerism, transportation, communication and more. This is your opportunity to ride the waves of the future and leave competitors in your wake.


Kyle Coon

Is seeing believing? Or is believing seeing? Can you clearly see where you want to go? These and many more are questions you’ll explore with 2020 Paralympian Kyle Coon. Totally blind since age six, Coon learned to live his life without limits from a very early age. He pursued competitive rock climbing, wrestling, outdoor adventure, and eventually found his way to endurance sport including representing the U.S. at the 2020 Paralympics in Paratriathlon. Along the way Coon learned how to “Keep it stupid simple,” “Do simple well,” and “Do simple better,” all while keeping an eye on his vision.
During Coon’s talk you will learn:

  • What is the secret to achieving your desired level of success
  • The importance of keeping it stupid simple, doing simple well, and doing simple better
  • The importance of building and developing a team
  • The importance of knowing and living your values
So if you’re ready, come on a journey as we climb mountains, and swim, bike and run across the world with Kyle Coon.


Learning Sessions


Guest Experience Student Panel – Top Engagement Questions Answered

They are your customers. You see them everyday but may only occasionally have an opportunity to find out what they think of your operation. Do you wonder what gets the student consumers of today excited? What makes them more loyal? What turns them off? What they are looking for? And how to better attract and engage them? Join moderator, Denise Payton, Assistant Director of Dining Services, Central Washington University, and student representatives from local universities for a panel discussion on these topics and more. What tidbits and ideas will you walk away with?


Meeting a Growing Demand for Gluten Free Diets

Kaitlin Kartchner, RDN, Brigham Young University
Allison LaRock, RDN, Montana State University

A poll conducted in 2015 suggests that 20% of Americans opt for a gluten free diet. Within this population, an estimated 1% of the United States population has celiac disease, and an additional 6% are estimated to be gluten sensitive. The demand for gluten free foods has risen drastically in the last decade and is projected to continue increasing for years to come.  For foodservice operations of all sizes, meeting this need comes with great challenges and opportunities. This is especially true in the collegiate foodservice sector. 
This learning session will cover the past, current, and future climate of gluten free dining, and dive into the vast reasons why a student may need or choose to eat gluten free foods. Food service strategies will then be presented for meeting these diverse consumers’ expectations. The accompanying benefits and challenges of these strategies will be discussed through real world examples and experiences. Emphasis will be given to how to implement these changes during the current staffing crisis many food service establishments are facing. 
Additionally, this session will also highlight the importance of gathering feedback from students, implementing effective employee training, and other key elements of serving individuals with diverse gluten free needs. The goal is to help university food services excel at providing nutritionally adequate and sustainable options to the varying levels of need within the gluten free community.


Executing a Polished Event

Amy Rasmussen, Associate Director of University Catering and Event Services, Utah State University

This session will give the attendees the opportunity to do hands on exercises that will enhance the outcome of their catering events. As well as ideas for staff training that will ensure standardize service throughout any type of event- From muffins and coffee to high end galas.


Team Building Through Professional Development

Denise Payton, Assistant Director Dining Services, Central Washington University

Creating professional development opportunities that resonate with dining employees can be challenging in University Dining programs.  In this session, learn how to build your professional staff by applying hands on learning activities focused on communication, problem solving and teamwork.  This session will be hands on, activity based to immerse participants in the learning process. Participants will partake in two activities and will be provided all the resources necessary to execute the same learning experience with their teams.


Trending: Pizza! Keeping the Craze Current

Matt Obergfell, Non-Commercial Northeast Business Development Manager, Hormel Foodservice

Pizza is on almost every single College and University Campus and is still a go to option for students and staff alike.  This session will showcase industry and culinary expertise to build your pizza knowledge and insights on the industry as a whole and within the C&U space. Those who attend the session will be able to learn about trends, styles, thinking outside the "pie" and how to implement a late night program that keeps campus dollars on campus. You'll need an open mind, taste buds and a fun attitude to fully embrace this learning session for the benefit of your guest's experience on campus.


Hire Not to Fire

Amy Rasmussen, Associate Director of University Catering and Event Services, Utah State University

The "Hire Not To Fire" concept has come from 10 years of research in the area of employee hiring and retention. Visual presentation, discussion and role play will take attendees through process map to create the "Hire Not To Fire" mindset within their own areas.


5+ Inspired Questions For Purchasing Software

Mike Craig, Co-Founder and Chief Evangelism Office, Nutrislice

Software is supposed to make your life easier, but if you’re not asking the right questions as you research, select, and implement new technology you might end up creating more work than you’re actually eliminating.  Join Mike, as he shares five questions to ask as you explore purchasing new software. With these questions you’ll gain more insight into how software companies operate and develop an increased confidence that the software you select will work for your specific needs.

Making Your Partnerships Matter

Darrin Dickerson, Director of Culinary Development, CSM Cost Solutions
Polly Knutson, Assistant Director of Dining and Hospitality – University of Colorado Colorado Springs

This session will provide an arsenal of information about who you can turn to for assistance in creating the best experience for your guests as well as help create an enjoyable working atmosphere.

We will explore what challenges you and your peers are facing on a regular basis; everything from the Guest Experience to the difficulties of managing budgets, labor and supply chain issues.

You will have the opportunity to break into groups and brainstorm about what these vulnerabilities and struggles are.  After sharing these discoveries, we will explore what partnerships and the related resources are that are available to you and your operation to help alleviate the headaches.

  1. Contract Management Resources – Accessing the Various Teams of Professionals and Tools that have been developed to assist in your success.
  2. Self-Op Resources – Everything from GPO’s and Consulting Services to Local and Community Partnerships that are available for you to draw upon.
  3. GPO Resources – The sometimes-hidden portfolio of services that can help assist in achieving your goals.
  4. Technology & Automation – Embracing change especially in a difficult labor market.
  5. Networking – Connecting with your peers that are struggling with the same things you are!

Through the course of this session, we will identify the Partnerships and Resources that are available to assist in resolving all the issues you are facing and maybe even some that you weren’t aware of!

The Future of Dining Value: Student-Supported Delivery

Victoria Liu, Founder and CEO - BYPPO
Larry Lee, M.Ed., CASP, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services, University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Join Larry and Victoria to explore trending opportunities to affect stakeholder satisfaction, perceived value, participation, and revenue generation through increased access and expanded meal plan portability. They will discuss creative ways to resolve student employment issues - both with sustainability in mind as well as tackling social issues. Discover new experiential learning and sustainability models through BYPPO Campus that add value to the dining program and campus community. Walk away with new ideas on how to re-engage students on campus through food, implement social efforts, and bring the community back to life on campus in non-conventional ways.

Frictionless Dining Experiences with Mobile ID
John Diaz, Vice President, Point-of-Sale Solutions, Transact Campus Inc.
Polly Knutson, Assistant Director, Dining and Hospitality Services, University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Transact Campus, and Polly Knutson from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs come together to share the campus dining improvements and lessons learned by switching to Mobile ID. Frictionless dining experiences provide students with the ability to carry their ID securely within their phone wallets, and quickly make transactions, use meal swipes, or open doors. Physical ID’s are quickly becoming a thing of the past and students are expecting an on the go experience in all parts of their lives. As the technical experts, Transact Campus will be showcasing the possibilities of what mobile ID’s are capable of and provide data on how Mobile ID is used and the future of Mobile ID.


Leadership, Ideal Team Player, Activate Your Organization
Joel Adour, Director of Foodservice Sales, Branding Iron – Holten/Rochester Meat Company

Great leadership does not happen by accident and great leadership can be learned and developed. Understanding 10 characteristics of great leadership can guide us through the process. Great leaders can develop team players. The foodservice industry is all about developing great teams and team players. Team players possess three common characteristics. Knowing these will help you choose the right team members and help guide you through coaching your team. Finally, there are three critical types of conversations you need to know in order to activate different levels within an organization. Being aware of what type of conversation applies to a given interact is key to be an effective communicator. I will address Leadership, Ideal Team Players and three types of conversations in this session.


Fighting Food Insecurity Through Local Resources
Alan Andersen, Executive Director for Dining Services, Utah State University
Nate Springer, President and CEO, Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado

Food insecurity is an ongoing issue in many communities. During this session the speakers will delve into insights on food insecurity from a national perspective and the role large food banks play in solving the crisis. Learn about programs that Utah State University has partnered with and resources that you can use to help combat the food insecurity crisis within your own campuses and communities.


Improving Resiliency for Burnout at Work
Dr. Z. Benek Altayli, Executive Director of Wellness Center, University of Colorado Colorado Springs

We’ve likely all experienced burnout at some point in our lives but how do we remain resilient to it? In this session, we’ll start by covering foundational information as it relates to burnout in the workplace and break out into small groups to discuss the information presented and how it might relate to you and your operations. You’ll have the opportunity to share what was discussed in the small groups and walk away with ways to improve resiliency for burnout.