Chartwells Releases Innovative Plan for the Future of Campus Dining

November 23, 2020

Chartwells Higher Education recently announced its Path Forward plan to help the 300+ colleges and universities it serves plan for campus dining in 2021 and beyond. Path Forward focuses on customizable strategies and solutions, including innovative meal plans, ghost kitchens, mental health programs, boxed catering, and safety technologies, to support COVID-19 challenges, safe dining, and student successes.

Path Forward was informed by responses to a recent survey conducted by Chartwells to explore how colleges and universities are planning for enrollment, virtual classes, housing, dining, catering, and more in 2021. Survey respondents include campus leadership partners from across the United States. Some of the initial findings include:

  • While over 40% of respondents believe enrollment in Fall 2021 will be similar to 2020, another 30% expect to return to enrollment of 2019 or increase by as much as 10%.
  • By Fall 2021, nearly 60% of respondents believe on-campus housing will return to full capacity levels.
  • Nearly 70% of respondents are looking for ways to continue to offer take-away in-resident dining as well as reopen resident dining halls.
  • Over 50% are interested in mobile ordering and pick-up retail that eliminates checkouts and want options for on-campus delivery.

Path Forward was developed by a team of Chartwells seasoned operators, culinary experts, dietitians, chefs, and marketers. Last April, Chartwells’ Path to Open plan helped colleges safely return students to campus. Now, Path Forward looks to the future to see how students have and will continue to evolve during COVID-19 and beyond. Path Forward covers multiple facets of operating an innovative campus dining program, including:

  • Meal Plan Solutions: Nontraditional meal plans customized to changing student needs.
  • Ghost Kitchens: Pared-down commercial cooking spaces with no dine-in option that helps streamline inventory and menu management.
  • New Catering Options: New, unique catering options that incorporate popular food trends and can be used with small gatherings to support CDC guidelines that limit group sizes.
  • Safety Technologies: New digital solutions that help protect students and maintain safety protocols, while increasing communication, convenience and accessibility.

“We are pleased to see that our campus partners and their communities have started to adapt to today’s many COVID-related challenges. As we looked to next year, we challenged ourselves to create a catalog of innovation for our dining locations focused on student engagement and success,” said Lisa McEuen, CEO of Chartwells Higher Education. “Our goal with Path Forward is to help solve the continued challenges brought on by COVID-19, create a safe but strong student experience and enable campus-specific plans that focus on culinary innovation.”