Community Connection

December 12, 2023


Food has the power to bring people together, build relationships, and connect communities. At Fresh Ideas, we understand the importance of our role on college campuses and beyond. Every day, our dining teams work with local businesses and groups to support them and give back.
At Frank Phillips College, Director of Dining Services Jerry Odle hosts a variety of events on and off campus. Jerry hosts annual dinners during the holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. For Valentine’s Day, he hands out roses and decorates the dining hall for the holiday. He also gives away a life-sized teddy bear to a lucky guest. 
Jerry understands how important the dining hall is to the community, and he works to ensure every guest feels welcome and heard. He regularly sits down with students and those in the surrounding community and simply asks what they would like to see on the menu. The dining team at FPC not only feeds the campus, including students, faculty, and staff, but anyone in the Borger community is welcome to enjoy a meal at the dining hall. His Sunday brunches are the place to eat in town after church.
Jerry partners with local businesses such as local farms that grow lettuce and other vegetables in a hydroponic garden. With their help, they’re able to offer several different types of microgreens on the salad bar to enhance the guest experience.
Jerry knows the dining hall helps keep students fueled throughout the day and focused on their academics. During finals week, it is even more crucial to provide support for students. The dining team at FPC usually hosts a special late-night pajama breakfast, but this year they are trying a new event filled with a variety of food and beverage fountains like a chocolate fountain, cheese fountain, and even ranch dressing fountain to enjoy with freshly made chicken wings. In addition to this event, Jerry and his team manage multiple unique food and beverage stations on campus to help provide comfort and support to students during final exams. Some of those stations include a hot chocolate and cider bar, cookie decorating, and create-your-own “survival” snack kits.
In the surrounding town of Borger, Texas, Jerry and the FPC dining team are catering local Christmas parties by frying turkeys, baking pies, and preparing delicious dishes. They also cater weddings and other special events and regularly park the Fresh Ideas food truck around the community. Needless to say, the dining team enjoys participating in community activities like the annual Christmas parade downtown and provides hot chocolate and snacks to those enjoying the holiday festivities. They also regularly host fundraisers for first responders, military personnel, and children with special needs. The community engagement doesn’t end there; the FPC team partners with local barbecue competitions to provide food and participate in charity events. Jerry understands the importance of working with members of the community and supporting one another, especially in a small town like Borger.
Not far from Borger, Texas, Director of Dining Services Misty Terrill and her team at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas also support the surrounding community. For finals week, they leave snacks and drinks on tables around campus for students to take if they need a  pick-me-up to get through a late-night study session. They also host special dinners for holidays and other special events like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and the Super Bowl.
Misty and her team make it a priority to partner with and support community organizations. They provide meals for events like Relay for Life, a community-sponsored walk to raise money for cancer and support survivors. The team also provides meals for local music festivals and conferences.
Nearby high schools also benefit from Southwestern’s dining program. Misty and the Southwestern team partner with local high schools and provide food for post-graduation celebrations. A Fresh Ideas chef helps prepare food for students and teaches them about the culinary field. The Southwestern dining team is always willing to help community groups beyond campus. 
Finally, at Doane University, Assistant Director of Dining Services Payton Mort and the dining team focus on community partnerships. They work closely with the Chamber of Commerce to host plated dinners for the mayor and other city officials like the Chief of Police, treasurer, and others. The team also caters for weddings and holiday parties for both university and non-university customers. Strong partnerships are forged with elementary, middle, and high schools in the area as meals are donated during back-to-school supply drives. Like FPC and Southwestern, Payton and his team host special events for holidays and finals week. They savor the opportunity to showcase support for students and the surrounding community.
No matter if our dining programs are based in a small town or in a large metropolitan area, the communities surrounding the campuses we serve depend on one another. At Fresh Ideas, we not only understand the importance of supporting local businesses and organizations, but engaging with the greater community is a central part of who we are.

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