While college students will inevitably reach for the occasional late night slice of pizza, they might just be more mindful of their diets than we think. To provide fresh and exciting eating ideas to students, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) partnered with Chartwells Dining Services on the Texas State University campus. In late 2012, a two-month blueberry promotion offered students blueberries in a variety of meals and retail products. Nutrition information helped students better understand the versatility and health benefits of the Little Blue Dynamos.
The program was marketed to a diverse student population and generated especially strong interest among the Hispanic population which is 26 percent of Texas State’s 34,000 student body. Abel Valencia, Chartwells’ marketing manager at Texas State says, “Many Hispanic families are not exposed to blueberries. Resident dining on campus gives students access to global foods and ingredients they might not otherwise be familiar with. Introducing healthy food to students increases the likelihood that they may incorporate it into their daily lifestyle or diet after they graduate.”
Valencia mentioned that the associates as well as the students had a great experience with the promotion. “The campus dining staff is predominantly Hispanic. It was exciting and fun for them to work with blueberries and take part in the events as well. The staff members shared what they learned with their families. Their involvement further promoted the popularity of blueberries in the larger Hispanic community.”
• Student involvement: Various events held in the dining hall including “Berry Blue Lunch” and “Decorate Your Own Blueberry Pie Day” allowed students to participate in interactive activities. Blueberry-themed retail items and meals including nutritional information on promotional pieces attracted students’ interest.
• Technology spreads the word: Students are curious about the nutritional value of their meals and learned more about blueberries and health benefits from LCD monitors in the resident dining hall.
“The USHBC has supported campus blueberry promotions for several years now,” says Mark Villata, USHBC executive director. “The event at Texas State was successful in every way. The blueberry messages about year-round availability, health benefits, and menu versatility were all delivered to students as well as the dining staff.”
Valencia summarizes the program as very effective on several fronts. “The resident dining hall is a place where students come for an overall experience, to socialize and have conversation, not just a grab-and-go meal.” He sees that students are increasingly interested in health and nutrition, and the dining hall is a place where they can further develop this dietary consciousness.
“Overall we really enjoyed doing this,” says Valencia. “Everyone involved, from students to staff, seemed highly engaged in the program. The penetration of blueberries into the Hispanic community beyond resident dining speaks to both the significance and potential of this well-executed blueberry promotion on college campuses.” What’s next? Late night blueberry pizza?