When Marietta College wanted to provide additional support to its international students as they returned to campus, Parkhurst was able to assist with their 100 Days program, an initiative that aims to build lasting connections and student retention through food during the first 100 days of a school year.
“The 100 Days initiative provides structure for many of the things we were doing already,” said Adria Handley, General Manager of Parkhurst Dining at Marietta College. “It’s our normal process to meet with different stakeholders on campus every summer to determine what areas we want to focus on for the year.”
Marietta College wanted to focus on supporting their international student population, which had changed significantly following the pandemic. With many students returning to campus for the first time, it was important for Parkhurst to figure out how to reengage with them. An important step was a partnership with Global Connections, the international student group on campus.
“We can help our international students feel more connected to the campus through food. We met with Global Connections and let them guide the conversation. We hosted dining takeovers, and they chose which cultures and recipes they wanted to feature.”
Marietta College’s Japanese student population is the largest international group on campus, and they came incredibly prepared to put on an event.
“We hosted an interactive tasting for our Japanese students, where they prepared their favorite dishes from home and let the chefs taste them. Marietta doesn’t have an international food market, so we sourced their ingredients ahead of time from outside the area.”
Handley finds the 100 Days initiative helps the Parkhurst team to be more impactful and thoughtful with how they approach connecting with students and their families. Because of the relationships they’ve built, students are more comfortable sharing their thoughts.
“We always want to do things that are fun and interesting, and the 100 Days initiative helps us be more intentional in our messaging and helps students have the things they need when they need them. As a dining partner on a college campus, retention is huge. Dining might not be the reason that gets students here, but we certainly don’t want to be a reason they leave.”