The Oxford Eagle
A global food movement called Spoon University is spreading across college campuses, and it has finally reached the University of Mississippi through the help of students with a passion for food.
Spoon University is a food blog. Restaurant content is created by college students for college students. The content includes recommendations and recipes. It’s a food resource for the school.
The idea came from founders Mackenzie Barth and Sarah Adler, who decided to start a food club in 2009 at Northwestern University to share food ideas and pictures in Chicago. After graduating, they turned the idea into a business that started with Spoon University. Then it became an online publication and food movement based on three core values – initiative, impact and communication.
The team is based in New York City with a staff of over 100 people. They provide students with all necessities, such as marketing tools and tips, graphics to post on social media to gain more members, and photography and videography skills to make sure their school launch goes well.
The staff includes directors for sales, social media and engineering, editors, community engagement managers for each school, and video and photography managers.
The idea has spread to over 170 schools in and out of the United States and counting. It recently came to most Southern schools, such as Louisiana State University, Auburn University, and the University of Mississippi. Students can request to start Spoon University at their campus and gather a group of 10-70 students to help.
Spoon University at Ole Miss began in the 2016 spring semester and has grown to a group of around 10 students who write and market Spoon on campus with the help of community engagement manager, Andrea Jacobs, who keeps the Spoon Ole Miss team on track and organized through video chat calls from her home in Nashville.
Jacobs was in graduate school at Northwestern University when Barth and Adler were undergrads starting Spoon magazine.
“At the end of the first year, Spoon had 25 chapters, and the CEO sent an email to a few people saying they were looking for help working with existing chapters and managing chapter growth,” Jacobs said. “So I asked if I could help out, and now I’ve been doing this for over two years.”
Jacobs works with 50 southeastern schools and with some in Europe and India. She said that there are no regular days for her, but normally in the morning, she tries to work on big projects, look at data and make sure all Spoon chapters she manages are on track to success.
The second half of her day is spent on Google Hangouts, which are video chats with chapters, or she personally visits schools she lives by, like Vanderbilt or Sewanee, the University of the South.
Jacobs loves the competition between Southern schools.
“They’re a little more laid back than the North, and even the West,” she said, “but they bring the heat, and compared to the two other regions, the South is usually on top.”
Editorial director, Lindsey Fries, is a senior at the University of Mississippi who is majoring in integrated marketing and communications. She learned about Spoon coming to the University of Mississippi and “Googled it right then” because she was so excited. She joined because she wanted the “opportunity to learn from people who are doing what I want to do in life” and “grow as a writer.”
As editorial director, she looks over the articles the writers complete and checks over future story ideas. She leads the Spoon team and is helping them grow into a bigger, integrated part of the university.
Fries said she “still has so much to learn and to improve in my writing.” “Since I was 5 years old, I’ve known I wanted to be a writer, and I think that Spoon gets me just a little closer,” she said.
Another important person on the Spoon University team is Rose Lesko, marketing director. She is a UM sophomore who is double-majoring in nursing and general business. She runs the Ole Miss Spoon Instagram and will soon create a Twitter and Facebook page for the team.
“I have always had a strong passion for food,” she said. Lesko always thought she would go culinary school, but decided not to because she thought it would be a “dead end, career wise.”
She heard about Spoon on Instagram and Facebook, saw that it was coming to Ole Miss and decided to apply to join. Once accepted, she knew the marketing route would be the best place for her.
Along with Lindsey and Rose, there are about 10 other members who work for Spoon University as a hobby and with no pay. It is a supportive environment to help other foodies work in the business of food blogging, marketing and photography.
Spoon at the University of Mississippi still needs more people to join. They are accepting applications through their website.