Six questions for Food Services Director Todd Lanning
September 23, 2013 | Ashli O'Connell
Todd Lanning is more than just the food services director at Evangel University. He’s a listening ear around the dining hall, a fierce competitor in a spontaneous campus snowball fight and one of the biggest cheerleaders our students have. Since the day he arrived in 2012, Lanning has endeared himself to students with his genuine care and friendship. And he’s made the dining hall a pretty great place to have a meal as well. We asked Lanning to answer six questions about food services at Evangel.
1. You’ve made the Crusader Dining Hall such a fun place to be. What’s your secret?
We get out on the floor and talk with the students. We listen to their requests, suggestions, ideas and concerns, and then we act on those suggestions so the students know we listen to them and follow through. It’s also a fun place because of the new serving area remodel, which has allowed the students to get in and out much faster than before. In addition, the quality of the food and service have been raised to an all-time high, so the students like to hang out and relax after eating a good meal.
2. What’s your recipe for serving great college food?
Talking with our customers, acting on their requests, following recipes correctly, using quality ingredients and holding the production staff accountable for a quality product out on the serving lines. If we are not proud of our product, we don’t serve it. Simple as that.
3. What’s your favorite dish to serve?
Any of the favorites that the students request. Another big hit with the students is our monthly special events. These might be anything from a Super Sundae Birthday Bar to a Dr. Seuss-themed meal complete with Who Hash and Roast Beast.
4. What about those Freshman 15 rumors … fact or fable?
Fact, if the student does not manage their diet correctly. In a dining environment that has an all-you-can-eat format, it is very easy to gain weight. With unlimited soft-serve ice cream, fresh-baked desserts, burgers, fries, grilled sandwiches, one must be careful with their choices. Students can maintain and even lose weight with discipline. It’s all a matter of hand-to-mouth. If it passes their lips, it might as well be on their hips.
5. Why work with college students when you could be a chef in a French cafe or sailing the seven seas?
The energy and vibe on a university campus are very contagious. Just being around the students keeps me young at heart and ready to look forward to each and every day. The Evangel University students are the best kids I have ever worked for. They are very courteous and thankful for all you do for them. This makes my job so wonderful, and I feel very blessed to be a part of their daily lives.
(Lanning really has sailed the seven seas. Well, sort of. Read more about his sailing adventures on his boat, Life’s 2 Short.)
6. What makes Evangel University a great place to live and work?
First and foremost, the students. I also appreciate the faculty and staff for all their support and encouragement. We are a large family here on campus, and family looks out for each other.