Virginia Tech Dining Services earned a gold medal in the National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) 2022 Loyal E. Horton Dining Awards and a silver in the NACUFS 2022 Sustainability Awards. The awards celebrate innovative ideas and program implementation by the association’s members.

Dining Services’ 30th annual Chili Challenge event earned gold in the Residential Dining-Special Event category. The event, presented in fall 2020, was recognized for its exemplary menus, presentation, marketing, and planning.  

Brian Grove, senior associate director of Dining Services, said “I am extremely proud of the team that went above the call of duty to pull off the 30th Chili Challenge during the height of the pandemic.”

"In the fall of 2020, the whole collegiate food service model was in turmoil, and we were reinventing our operations on a constant basis,” said Brandon Hendricks, associate director of dining. “But because our students needed traditions and normalcy, this team rose up and gave it to them.”

The NACUFS Sustainability Award celebrates the pivotal role dining services have in the overall environmental sustainability and social responsibility goals of a campus. Dining Services’ Sustainable Eats Bike Tour earned silver in the outreach and education category.

"The Sustainable Eats Bike Tour is a way to make students more aware of the plant-based, local, and otherwise sustainable options in our daily menus,” said Ben Marks, associate director of dining. “That student engagement feeds our vision and energy for how we create more sustainable menu options and more programming for students around sustainability.”

Blake Bensman, sustainability manager for Dining Services and Housing and Residence Life, said, “It’s an honor for our team to accept this award. Creating impact-driven experiential learning opportunities for our students is paramount. We understand that sustainable dining does not stop at graduation. This program showcases how our department can effectively equip students with the knowledge to make healthy and sustainable food choices throughout their lives.”

Each of the dining programs competed against collegiate food services of comparable enrollment and service volume throughout the United States. Dining Services will be recognized for each of the events at the NACUFS 2022 National Conference in Spokane, Washington, in July. 

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