Meatless Monday on the Foodservice Conference Trail at NACUFS 2017

August 7th, 2017


Nashville, Tennessee recently hosted the annual conference of the National Association of College & University Foodservice. The three-day event convened over 1,000 college and university campus dining professionals and industry partners for inspirational learning, idea and product sharing, collaboration, and peer-to-peer networking. Many of the 334 exhibitors promoted their plant-forward services and products.

Cherry Dumaual, PR & partnerships director for The Monday Campaigns, attended the conference and networked on behalf of Meatless Monday. She had the opportunity to visit booths, attend interest sessions and talk with foodservice dining directors, chefs, and product representatives about trends in meat reduction and plant-based menus.

Food Management magazine held a roundtable session attended by foodservice dining directors including Bernie Chung-Templeton of Bryn Mawr College. A liberal arts college with about 1,300 undergraduate students, Bryn Mawr ranked number 10 on Princeton Review’s 2017 list of Best Colleges for Food. Chung-Templeton said that Bryn Mawr implemented Meatless Monday around seven years ago: “There has always been a demand for meatless entrees that are delicious and nutritious. We created a ‘Mostly Meatless’ station, which we modeled after looking at Meatless Monday materials. We don’t take meat away but introduce additional meatless options both at this station and on the standard menu to provide more meatless opportunities and to showcase how meatless can be tasty and good for you.”

Chung-Templeton said that this fall will see the launch of an evolution of Meatless Monday, a plant-based, totally meatless, local, organic, sustainable, ethical, health-forward concept. She shared examples of their vegan dishes.

Meatless Monday dishes at Bryn Mawr


Cherry’s first stop in the exhibit hall was the Humane Society of the United States Meatless Monday booth. Ken Botts, food and nutrition director for HSUS, shared his insights and observations on the direction of campus dining:

“The conversation of how to create delicious plant-based menus is top of mind for the college and university foodservice operators. This demand is being driven by their students for a variety of reasons; health, spirituality, sustainability and animal welfare. The plant-based conversation was once a trend but in 2010 it started becoming the norm, and now it is here to stay. The folks who attended NACUFS were looking for resources to develop plant-based menus and NACUFS delivered!”

Cherry and Ken Botts at the HSUS Meatless Monday booth


Other stops focused on tasting samples of new, delicious, nutritious plant-based food products. Erik Henry, foodservice director at Bush’s Beans, drew in attendees samplings of their new hummus, which the brand will launch on campuses in August.

Asked about Meatless Monday, Henry said, “If people would take one day a week to simply eat plants, they’ll realize it makes them feel good.”

Erik Henry promoting the new Bush’s Beans hummus


Danny O’Malley, sales manager for Beyond Meat, offered his take on Meatless Monday which he believes is a “great transitional day” to motivate omnivores and carnivores to try plant-based foods like Beyond Meat’s products.

Danny O’Malley offers Beyond Meat samples


Cherry’s final stop was the Pinnacle Foodbooth where Suzanne Tenuto tempted attendees with flavorful Gardein meatless meatballs, describing them as “meatless, well done.” She added: “Adding Gardein meatless meatballs to a Meatless Monday menu makes for a quick and easy spaghetti and meatball dish or sub sandwich. Meat lovers won’t know the difference.”

Suzanne Tenuto with Gardein’s meatless meatballs


Nashville was truly the perfect backdrop for NACUFS, where plant-based initiatives and campaigns were part of the biggest growing food trends on campus.