Students launch Spoon University Villanova chapter

SpoonUWith a lack of kitchens, limited meal plans and little cooking experience, students often refer to college as the place “where food comes to die.”

In 2012, two students at Northwestern University sought to change this outlook by creating an interactive media platform informing students how to eat intelligently. The site contains articles, videos and photos on a range of food topics from local restaurant reviews to on-campus dining to cooking instructions for dorms or apartments.

The site’s popularity at Northwestern extended to nearby colleges, where students contacted the founders to create similar platforms on their campuses. From there the website grew rapidly. Three years later, Spoon University’s network now encompasses over 1,800 student contributors on more than 60 college campuses nationwide.

Thanks to sophomores Michael Scheer and Taylor McCarthy, co-founders of Spoon University’s Villanova chapter, we are now among that list.

It all began in the fall semester of 2014, when Scheer and McCarthy participated in the University’s ICE CaPS program. ICE CaPS is a sophomore program that focuses on the concepts of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. One of the requirements in the program is to complete a final project, and Scheer, having heard about Spoon University through a friend at UCLA, thought that starting Spoon at the University would fit the requirement perfectly.

Although the site officially launched last Sunday, March 15, the co-founders explain that the road to get there was both long and hectic, though very rewarding in the end.

“At the end of last September we had to go through an application process through Spoon University first,” Scheer explained. “This involved filling out applications, phone interviews, and getting around 250 students, friends and family to sign a petition.”

Once approved through Spoon University, the co-founders needed to make the group official on campus through the Office of Student Development. This included getting an advisor, writing a constitution and getting more signatures on a petition. It was not until over winter break that the group was approved.

“Second semester we hit the ground running,” McCarthy says. “We put out applications at the beginning of January and had our first meeting by early February.”

Now, the group currently consists of 33 students and is open to anyone interested. All members must participate in an online training program to learn about the organization and how it functions best. Contributors pay $15 to join, but that comes with perks such as restaurant discounts.

The current group is divided into three main teams: photography, marketing and writing.   Photographers provide photos for all of the articles, working closely with all of the writers. Behind the scenes, the marketing team works on advertising, forming business relationships with local restaurants and managing social media outlets. The marketing team successfully raised $389 at their first fundraising event, hosting Krispy Kreme donuts on campus.

The writing team is responsible for generating story ideas and contributing articles on a regular basis. Story topics include anything from food trends on campus to local restaurant reviews to quizzes and recipes.

“The editing process is really complicated because it’s so specific to the website,” McCarthy says. “But the headquarters is really trendy and hip, so they are not afraid to let students use informal language. The writing is fun and really tailored to the audiences’ interests.”

As far as the future goes, the Spoon University chapter has a lot ahead. On Friday, March 27, the group is hosting a launch party from 2-4 p.m. outside Café Nova by the Oreo. The party will have free food, music, contests and prizes.

Later in the spring, the group also plans on incorporating a community outreach project to their list of activities. They hope to volunteer through Food Trust, an organization in Philadelphia that brings food to low income neighborhoods.

“It’s great that we’re a really young group,” Scheer says.  “There are a few upperclassmen, the whole executive board is sophomores, and the majority I would say are freshmen.  It’s great that these students are interested so early because they can take Spoon really far over the next four years. It’s hot, new and exciting, and we can’t wait to see where it goes.”

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