Indiana University Kokomo

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Tony Wood graduates from Indiana University Kokomo with real-world marketing and project management experience, after he and his Enactus teammates helped the new campus food service providers learn more about its new market.

Enactus and Rozzi's CateringEnactus and Rozzi's Catering

The student organization, comprised mostly of business students, developed a 25-question survey about campus food service, and conducted more than 300 face-to-face interviews with students, faculty, and staff, asking questions about what kinds of foods they want available, pricing, and how often and what times of day they eat on campus.

Wood, a senior, said the business students gained hands-on experience in marketing, while serving not only the Cougar Country Café by Rozzi's Catering, but everyone who eats on campus.

"We learn about how to do these things in our classes, but this gave us a chance to try it on our own," he said. "This is a real business, and we are able to take what we've learned and use it to help."

In response to the survey, Enactus members successfully applied for a $1,500 Sam's Club Step Up for Small Business grant, to buy a panini press. The $500 left after the purchase will fund an advertising campaign, which may include improved signage, table menus, and digital signs, this semester.

Students were surprised to return to classes in the fall and find a different menu and prices than the previous school year, said Enactus member Vincent Knarr. Many did not know that a locally owned company replaced the previous food service provider, which had been subsidized to keep prices lower.

"We're helping them re-brand as a restaurant, rather than a fast food on campus," he said. "We want everyone to notice that the quality is better, and there are more healthy options than we had before."

People were very vocal about their likes and dislikes.

"I was surprised by how willing they were to talk about it, and how important it was to our campus," Knarr, a junior, said. "We found out that the traditional-age students really want healthy options, but they also want more fried options. They want the option to eat healthy, or not to eat healthy."

After compiling results, the students created a report with graphics, and presented it to Executive Chef JoAnn Rozzi, Robert Rozzi, the general manager, and Jennifer Rozzi, event director.

For JoAnn Rozzi, it was valuable insight into the market.

"It let us learn more about the students, what they want to eat, and what they think is a good price," she said. "We increased our healthy food offerings this semester, based on the survey results. The Enactus students gave us a good look into the community."

Chapter Advisor Adam Smith said the group would present their work in competition at the Enactus national conference, set for April 1-3 in Cincinnati.

"This project uses a lot of the business principals we teach in class," he said. "They learned project management, research, and grant writing skills. Conference presentation projects are supposed to have environmental, social and economic impact, and this project has all of those."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.