Team Cooking Class Builds Camaraderie and Engagement at Randolph-Macon College

When it comes to Parkhurst’s 100 Days program, an initiative focused on the first 100 days of a school term for higher education partners, Marketing Manager and Dietitian at Randolph-Macon College, Julia Danisewicz, likes having it in the back of her mind when planning for the semester.

“The First 100 Days program looks to capture as much attention as possible and create excitement and a positive mindset around the dining hall experience,” Danisewicz said. “Dining is a centerpiece to their whole college experience, and it’s great to foster these connections right away.”

Before the students started their semester in the summer of 2022, athletes, like the women’s field hockey team, arrived on campus early. Parkhurst and R-MC saw this as an opportunity to host a class to teach the students how to make energy balls using at-home ingredients, allowing them to create something they can use to stay energized between classes and their busy schedules.

“It was a way for our executive chef to meet the students and also for the players to put a face behind who prepares their food. Seeing the players and their appreciativeness makes it even more worth it. The coaches really liked it, too. It made the dining hall more than just a place the team goes to get their meals.”

Parkhurst divided the team into two class sessions, and the chef walked them through how to make the snack, showing them different energy bite combinations featuring different ingredients and flavors.

“The bites themselves are very easy to make. The students learned they could even make them in their dorms. It was fun to help the students realize cooking can be easy.”

The class also served as a team development tool. Danisewicz could see the bond between team members as they enjoyed the camaraderie.

“The class was such a hit, and the team still talks about it! We are looking forward to offering this to other teams on campus.”

With the 100 Days program always in her back pocket, Danisewicz and the rest of the Parkhurst team have plans to keep the momentum going throughout the term while encouraging communication between the Parkhurst team and the campus community.

Randolph-Macon has certain days, like Mad Hatter Day, every year. We do an Alice in Wonderland theme with food, including a tea party. We have to be creative as we generate more excitement toward the dining hall.”