MCURC Newsletter – The Menus of Change, University Research Collaborative

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November 2018 Newsletter

Princeton University and Rutgers University Host Fourth Annual Meeting of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative

Click here to read the notes and view the presentations from the 2018 meeting.


Over 120 representatives from 34 colleges and universities, one ex-officio organization, three Research Collaborator organizations, and 17 sponsor organizations gathered at Rutgers University and Princeton University Oct. 7-9 to share an exciting and expanded research agenda and pipeline of projects, newly developed resources, and future ideas for advancing the vision of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative.

On Oct. 7, academic faculty and campus dining leaders from Rutgers University hosted a pre-meeting tour of the Rutgers Dining program and the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health (IFNH). A panel discussion, “Harvest as a Living/Learning Laboratory,” took place on the academic collaborations occurring at the institute, moderated by Dr. Peggy Policastro, Director of Behavioral Nutrition at IFNH and Nutrition Specialist, Rutgers Dining, and Ian Keith, Manager of Culinary Excellence and Development, Rutgers University, and Chef at Harvest @IFNH. Chef Keith ‘97 and his team created an exceptional MOC-inspired dinner at IFNH’s Harvest eatery

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On Oct 8-9, the meeting at Princeton started with the celebration of a 2018 full of innovative projects, exciting milestones, and new insights. Tours of various campus dining operations highlighted ways that Princeton is implementing Menus of Change principles.

The meeting included insightful panel discussions among Princeton faculty and staff on the MOC principle, “Celebrate Cultural Diversity and Discovery,” with focuses on cultural and religious sensitivity. Panelists included leaders from the Office of the Dean of Religious Life, Princeton University, representing Muslim Life, Hindu Life, and the Center for Jewish Life, and the session was moderated by the Dean of Religious Life, Alison Boden. A second panel discussion focused on diversity, and the third discussion introduced the groundbreaking Princeton Food and Ag Initiative.

Colleen McClellan presented cutting-edge data related to plant-forward menus from Datassential.

Dr. Shirley Everett, Chair of the Senior University Administrators Committee, launched the Marketing and Communication Strategic Initiative.

An update on the MCURC Collective Impact initiative was presented by Richard Waite (World Resources Institute) and Dara Silverstein (Stanford R&DE), after a warm thank-you to all 27 universities who submitted data for the initiative. Together they have allowed us to collect data on about 300 million pounds of protein that MCURC members purchased collectively from January – June of this year. Eric Montell, MCURC Co-Director and Executive Director of R&DE Stanford Dining, spoke about the joint purchasing goals for the MCURC. Greg Drescher, Vice-President of Strategic Initiatives and Industry Leadership at the CIA, spoke about potential opportunities for MCURC members to pilot menu strategies related to the forthcoming EAT-Lancet report, which in January 2019 will announce global targets for dietary guidelines that align optimal nutrition with planetary boundaries.
If you would like to participate in the data collection, please contact Dara Silverstein ( for more information.

What is the Collective Impact initiative?
MCURC Collective Impact (CI) is a strategic initiative of data collection and impact analysis that empowers members by enhancing their understanding of the Collaborative’s combined protein purchases. The members’ protein purchases directly affect the global environment and the health of their students. The data is aggregated so that the MCURC membership’s ability to enhance both of these efforts is exponentially increased beyond that of any one university. Once fully understood, the most effective strategies for reaching these goals will be shared more broadly.

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The meeting was also a time for the professional committees and working groups to gather and work on the year ahead. Next week’s newsletter will feature their updates from the meeting, and provide more details on the exciting Research Showcase that was one of the annual meeting highlights.

Thank you to all of this year’s presenters, attendees, and the sponsors who continue to make MCURC possible. We hope to see you at next year’s meeting, which takes place Oct. 6-8, and will be hosted by University of Colorado, Boulder. Click here to watch a preview video they prepared for us.