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“One of the things I appreciate the most about Michigan State University is the low barriers to collaboration with other units on campus,” says Vennie Gore in a conversation with MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and Bill Beekman. Gore is vice president for auxiliary enterprises at MSU. Gore and his RHS colleagues work with academic and service units on campus to provide the best student experience.

Gore continues to lead the development of MSU’s Neighborhood concept. “They’re partly about geographic locations, but they’re also about providing a diversity of academic and demographic experiences for students,” says Gore.

“One of the major changes we’ve made over the last seven years is that we’ve gone from a production format of food service to a much more cook to flow process with chefs. So many of our chefs are able to customize diets for students with special dietary needs.”

Gore says his unit serves 45,000 meals a day and procures $30 million worth of food each year. He says another important purpose of the neighborhoods is to provide a “sense of third place” where the entire community can come together.

“The neighborhoods aren’t just about the people who live there, but are about the entire community.”

Gore’s best advice for parents as their children transition to college?

“Kids need us to listen. We baby boomer parents have tended to be very active in our kids life all along, and it’s hard to let that go. College is about learning to make decisions for oneself and becoming independent. So parents need to resist fixing everything in their child’s life that will come up during their college years.”

As for the students? “Don’t bring everything.”

Another trend Gore says is on the horizon is the availability of more specialty foods at venues like Spartan Stadium and Breslin Center.

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