Food Service Instructions

Step by step:
1. Host an introductory meeting | 2. Designate the IO | 3. Create an online profile | 4. Complete the Campus Food Baseline Survey | 5. Approve the Assessment Plan | 6. Provide Purchasing Invoices | 7. Provide a Letter of Endorsement | 8. Provide advice and support | 9. Request and share feedback

Support from Food Service Staff and Administration is necessary to make the Good Food Challenge a success. 

Below is an outline of the roles that Food Service Staff will play during the Good Food Challenge Calculator process: 

1. Host an introductory meeting (approximately 1 hour) 
The purpose of this meeting is to (1) review the Good Food Challenge project, (2) determine the project plan, and (3) schedule an agenda to complete the Campus Food Baseline Survey together. 

2. Designate the Institutional Official (IO) 
This is someone who can grant the students access to invoices, (typically a food service manager or staff person). Once a food service staff member has been designated as the IO, this person will be the main contact/liaison between the students and Meal Exchange National Coordinator and food services staff. 

3. Create an online profile (approximately 10 minutes) 
Once the GFC student coordinators have created an online account with the Good Food Calculator, the IO can register as an Official on the Good Food Calculator website. At this time, the Good Food Challenge Coordinator will give approval (thereby granting the IO special privileges to see Good Food Calculator data and results). 

 ** Please note - use of the Good Food Calculator website requires consent to the Good Food Challenge Terms of Use. Please read and understand the Terms of Use before continuing further. 

To sign up, create an individual profile, find and click on your institutional profile, and click affiliate next to the institution's name to connect your account with the institutional profile account. 

4. Complete the Campus Food Baseline Survey (approximately 1-2 hours) 
Before students begin the calculator process, they must complete the Campus Food Baseline Survey. During the introductory meeting, Food Service Staff and the Student Researcher should have booked a meeting to complete the Campus Food Baseline Survey together. The purpose of this survey is for students to understand how their campus food services operate. Questions touch on topics including number of staff, overall budget, and sustainability policies. 

Although students will be able to answer some questions on their own, they will need assistance from Food Service Staff to effectively complete the survey. 

***The information collected in the Campus Food Baseline Survey will be treated as confidential. 

5. Approve the Assessment Plan (approximately 10 minutes) 
After the Campus Food Baseline Survey is complete, students will write an assessment plan to guide their work. After the Meal Exchange National coordinator approves the assessment plan, the IO must also approve the plan by logging in to the Institutional Profile, opening the assessment plan for the relevant year, and clicking "approve" at the top of the screen. 

6. Provide Purchasing Invoices 
Providing access to purchasing invoices is integral to the Good Food Calculator. Over the course of the research project, students must have access to invoices in order to complete the Good Food Calculator. The IO must assemble the relevant invoices (typically from a period of two months - the students will let you know their parameters), and develop a strategy to share the information. 

If possible, digital purchasing records (in the form of velocity reports from vendors, outputs from purchasing management software, or other digital record keeping mechanisms) are preferred, but paper copies are accepted. Some food service administrators give copies of the invoices to the students, while others ask that students view the invoices under supervision within specific office hours. Some dining services also ask students to sign a confidentiality agreement. 

In order for students to complete the Good Food Calculator, Institutional Officials must share invoice information including, but not limited to, an itemized record of each food product, including: 
  • Name of product and/or product number 
  • Name of Supplier, Brand, and if possible, other information about the source of the product (such as distributor, manufacturer, farm) 
  • Contact information for the point in the supply chain with which you interact, for example, Vendor, Supplier, Brand, Distributor, Manufacturer, Farm, etc. (the closer you can get to the origin of the product, such as the farm, the easier the research process will be) 
  • Any associated tracking numbers available, including UPC, SKU, DIC, SCC, GTIN, LOT, etc. (the more tracking information you are able to provide, the more efficient the research process will be) 
  • Dollar amount spent (this information is not connected to amounts of product) 
  • And any other information that you have access to, including: 
    • Any certifications (such as organic, fair trade) 
    • List of ingredients 
    • Origin of product 
    • Reference number/code for distributor’s online database 
The more information you can provide to the student researcher, the more successful their research will be!  

**Notwithstanding Calculator Results and the total dollar amount spent on food purchases, all confidential information will be treated as confidential and will not be shared except by written permission of the discloser. ** 

7. Provide a Letter of Endorsement (approximately 10 minutes) 
When student researchers first contact the relevant suppliers, brands, distributors, etc., it is helpful to include a formal letter of support from their IO. A letter of support substantially increases the likelihood of a response, and therefore, the ability for the researcher to successfully identify Good Food products. You can find a template letter of support in the Toolkit Library under Email Templates for Researchers. 

8. When possible, provide advice and support throughout the Calculator process (approximately 1-4 hours/month, depending on your capacity) 
Researchers who have access to ongoing support from IO’s tend to complete the research sooner, have more reliable access to relevant data, and experience higher levels of confidence and success. Although Meal Exchange staff offer consistent, hands-on support, including training, regular check-ins, multiple quality control data checks, access to resources and connections to peer researchers, additional support from IO staff adds a third leg of stability for the research process. Support can include regular bi-monthly or monthly meetings to update each other on the research process, and discuss next steps, informal meetings on a needs-basis, or regular email contact. 

9. Request and Share Feedback 
There are many opportunities and next steps with the Good Food Challenge, and some of the next steps are up to you! If you require a final report or presentation from students, please let them know and ensure that they include it in their project plan. Meal Exchange would also love to hear your feedback. If you have ideas on how to improve the Calculator process, please be in touch to share your insights.
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Good Food Challenge, a joint project of Meal Exchange and the Real Food Challenge, is an international student campaign dedicated to creating a healthy, just and sustainable food system. Our goal is to shift $1 billion in institutional food spending to 'good food.'
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