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Agricultural News

Reaching the Millennial Generation With Agricultural Products Through College Food Service

Tue, 13 May 2014 16:55:00 CDT

Reaching the Millennial Generation With Agricultural Products Through College Food Service

Reaching Millennial generation college students with the agricultural products they want that are safe and affordable is a tall order to fill. But that's just what Sodexo's Rob Marasco endeavors to do. He has more than 30 years of experience in all facets of food service management, including experience at noted establishments such as the Kennedy Center and Capital Hilton Hotel. He joined Sodexo in 1997 and currently serves as the Senior Director of Offer Development.

Marasco said that in conversation after conversation, college students say they want local foods to be a big part of their dining experience. He spoke with a panel of students at the Animal Agriculture Alliance's 2014 Stakeholder's Summit. In the latest Beef Buzz, he says pinning Millennials down and finding out just what that means helps his company fine tune their offerings at campuses they serve nationwide.

"Is it important to you to see farmer Joe's apple truck or chicken truck show up at the loading dock? Is that what's important to you? Because farmer Joe can't provide the volume we need to support that campus for a week, a month, a year. So, if that's what's important to you, let's have that conversation and nail that down. We can do that. But if you really want to identify whatever the criteria is that you want naturally-raised, hormone-free, free-range, cage-free-whatever all those things are, if you want that, that's a different conversation that we would have with multiple suppliers that we work with that really do the volume that we need to make a difference and not just, maybe this is too strong a word, greenwash it just to see the truck show up once a week- We're not really accomplishing anything for us, the client or the farmer."

The panel, entitled "College Cafeteria Confidential: Millennials in the Lunch Line" included Eric Estroff, a sophomore from Atlanta, Georgia; Jesse Schaffer, a senior from Chicago, Illinois; and Jennifer Weinberg a freshman from New Jersey who grew up on a cattle feed yard and still shows cattle.

"You want to reach college students today? We have short attention spans, probably too short," explained Estroff. "Use Facebook and Buzzfeed and make it 30 seconds long. As a millennial, you have two minutes to get my attention, so be creative, be funny and use social media."

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.


Ron Hays Beef Buzzes with Rob Marasco of Sodexo.
right-click to download mp3


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