Clarion Group Releases Study Results on Dining Services for Food Service Operators in Universities and Schools

Kingston, NH, November 11, 2009 --( College dining service operators need to review their programs and adapt to the preferences of a new generation of students, according to Tom Mac Dermott, president of the food service consulting firm, Clarion Group. Failing to do so may result in reduced patronage and meal plan participation as students find more satisfactory off-campus alternatives.

“Today’s students have a much more casual approach to meals and consider these as much social occasions as necessary ‘refueling’ activities,” he said. “They want to eat, or at least nibble, whenever and where ever the mood strikes them, typically, while studying, with friends in a social setting or in their dorms.”

He cited the results of a recent nationwide survey by Technomic, a consumer research firm. More than a third of college men and nearly half of the women Technomic surveyed said they skip one or more standard meals and snack instead. Another 37% of respondents say they not only eat three meals a day, but also snack between meals.

Students also want late night options, like longer dining service hours and delivery to their on-campus rooms, Technomic found.

Mac Dermott suggests actions campus dining services can take to increase customer counts and revenues, and keep student from going off-campus, include:

· Increase the choice of snack-type foods in the dining center, including prepackaged “grab-and-go” items.
· Make meal plans more flexible to accommodate the new, more casual meal preferences.
· Extend dining center dinner hours.
· Keep at least one campus coffee bar, deli or similar facility open into the wee hours, at least Monday through Thursday and Sunday night. Only one or two attendants would be needed.
· Offer snack options that reflect the tastes and preferences of the campus. Pizza isn’t the only food students like.
· Offer dorm delivery service at night. Weekend days also may be a profitable time to offer this service for those who don’t feel like coming to the dining hall.
· Adapt the meal plan so that meal cards can be used at any campus dining facility and to pay for deliveries.

“The campus is no longer an isolated ivory tower,” Mac Dermott said. “Students have cars to reach off-campus eating spots and telephones to order from off-campus delis, Chinese restaurants and pizza parlors that deliver. They are offering services and convenience that the campus dining service can offer, and taking in dollars that could be in the dining service’s coffers.”

About Clarion: Clarion Group is a food service consulting firm that works with companies, professional firms and educational institutions nationwide to improve the operation and reduce costs of their in-house food service operations. For more information, visit

Clarion Group
Tom Mac Dermott