Becoming a centre of excellence
Chartwells, our dedicated school and education catering experts, has been serving the students of the University of Sussex (UoS) since 2013. Back then, we recognised the importance of a smooth transition into outsourced catering for the university.
This alongside a growing need to create food experiences that catered to students' diverse preferences, meant we had to think outside the box with our approach. Since then, we’ve proudly delivered a seamless 'Sussex Food' catering solution that spans across the entire campus.
Planet-forward catering experiences
By engaging with students and actively listening to their feedback, we quickly understood the need to drive sustainability measures at the University of Sussex. This involved supporting local suppliers, using seasonal produce and offering plant-forward menus.
To tackle the issue of single-use cups, we launched the Simply Cup recycling scheme and Mug for Life initiative. Through a 30p levy on drinks, we encouraged students to opt for reusable cups. We also adopted the Winnow waste system in a partnership with Too Good to Go and Olio, pioneering the installation of a bio-processor. This revolutionary system converts compostable and organic waste into nutrient-rich fertilisers, benefitting both our green spaces and local allotments.
A new student ambassador programme
To establish a connection with UoS students, we appointed a dedicated Student Engagement Manager to listen attentively to their wants and needs. We also introduced a Student Ambassador programme, collaborating with students that have a substantial social following. This initiative not only enabled us to promote new products effectively but also helped us gather feedback from their peers.
This insight then allowed us to revamp menus across our seven cafés, two restaurants, two food vans, Change Please mobile van and two trikes to align with emerging food trends, preferences and dietary requirements.
Rising to the challenges of Covid-19
During the Covid-19 crisis, we focused on student safety by introducing several no or low-contact food hubs and concepts. Through the Uni Food Hub app, we offered click and collect services, food deliveries and cook-at-home meal kits. We also added Starbucks units into residence halls, as well as culinary pop-up food vans on campus.
During lockdown periods, we designed experiential treat kits to keep students entertained and, to support self-isolating students, developed nutritionally balanced, 14-day food kits.