Virtual Town Halls

The need for answers is more important than ever and the National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) always tries to respond with the utmost urgency. Virtual Town Halls are where the brightest minds and solution seekers collaborate and share solutions on how to respond to the multitude of changes and demands of a fast-paced collegiate dining environment with clarity and vision. Virtual Town Halls are live and also available on-demand and is an included member benefit for all NACUFS members.

All Virtual Town Halls are available for download in the NACUFS Store. For upcoming Virtual Town Halls, click here.


As students continue returning to campuses across the country, quarantine and isolation meals remain hot topics. Meeting special dietary needs and allergy requirements can be a challenge while serving in these new circumstances. Ashley Foster, assistant director of culinary nutrition and risk management, Virginia Tech; Gail Mitchell, chef nutritionist, Villanova University, and Tara Sanders, assistant director – nutrition and sustainability, Oregon State University all share their expertise and experiences in this Virtual Town Hall.

Retail Operations in the COVID-19 Environment

Retail operations have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, just as all areas of collegiate dining have. Adjustments to food courts, c-stores, and other retail locations have been required. In response, campuses have had to implement safety changes such as new signage, plexi-glass, changes to self-serve, and new cleaning protocols. Jason Arnett, manager, food court and coffee bars, Johnson County Community College; Donna Morris-Powell, director for retail operations, North Carolina A&T State University; and Jeffrey Palmer, director of dining, culinary, and markets, University of California San Diego share their perspectives.

Staffing & Training in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted staffing and training in the foodservice profession, impacting staff at every level. There will also be significant impacts as vaccinations continue and in-person operations return to normal. Join NACUFS and our panelists, Laura King, HR administrator for culinary services, Michigan State University; Lucas Miller, senior associate director of operations, Colorado State University, and Chuck Nicosia, corporate job trainer, University at Buffalo, to discuss the impacts of furloughs and layoffs on staff morale, changes in training during the pandemic, and thoughts on the future of training and staffing as we begin to reopen indoor dining and return to normal operations.

Takeaways From the COVID-19 Pandemic to Help Us Improve Future Service

During the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions had to adapt rapidly. These changes helped improve in areas of customer service, technology, innovation, and more. Going forward, how will institutional members apply these new ideas to their dining operations? Each region held a Virtual Town Hall for a discussion on these topics, and the legacy COVID-19 will leave on college and university dining operations.

Continental Region – Speakers: Mike Kosevich, associate director, Montana State University; Kim Pogansk, director of culinary services, College of St. Benedict, and Liz Poore, director of dining services, Colorado State University.

Mid-Atlantic Region – Speakers: Jennifer Hickey, director of dining services, Washington & Lee University; Brian Grove, senior associate director, Virginia Tech, and Errol A. Huffman, director of dining services, Dickinson College.

Midwest Region – Speakers: Jill Irvin, director of university dining, University of Iowa; Zia Ahmed, senior director dining services, The Ohio State University, and Peter Testory, director of dining and culinary services, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Northeast Region – Speakers: Virginia Dunleavy, director of dining and catering, Rhode Island School of Design; Eric Blackledge, executive director, University at Buffalo; Jennifer Stonewell, director of human resources, SUNY Morrisville; Tanzania Cannon-Eckerle, director of human resources, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Chef James Webb, senior executive chef, SUNY Cortland.

Pacific Region – Speakers: Dan Faires, assistant director, retail dining, University of Washington; Tara Sanders, assistant director of nutrition and sustainability, Oregon State University; Christine Carlson, senior associate director, University of Arizona, and Derek Holl, project planning analyst, University of California San Diego.

Southern Region – Speakers: Holly Grof, RD, RDN, dining services coordinator, The University of Alabama; Heather Young, marketing director, The University of Alabama; Mike Betzold, assistant director – hospitality services, Texas Tech University; Alan Cushman, marketing manager – hospitality services, Texas Tech University; Joe Anderson, general manager, Georgia Southern University, and Michael Doyle, general manager galley dining commons, Georgia Southern University.