Hope College Dining Services has received national recognition in the 2016 Loyal E. Horton Dining Awards program of the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS).

The dining services received a silver award in the “Residential Dining-Special Event” category among medium-sized schools for “Hoops Happening,” a two-day themed program held this past January in conjunction with Hope’s women’s basketball game with Calvin College.  The award recipients were recognized this summer during the NACUFS 2016 National Conference in Anaheim, California.

“Hoops Happening” started on Tuesday, Jan. 19, with dinner at Phelps Dining Hall.  The basketball-inspired menu featured options like “In the Paint Pizza Pie,” “Buzzer Beater Boneless Wings” and “Drive the Lane Lo Mein,” with the décor including balloons shaped like basketballs, balloons in Hope’s orange-and-blue colors, and women’s basketball jerseys on the walls.  Among other touches, members of the staff wore referee jerseys, a DJ provided entertainment, and students competed in carnival-style basketball games and trivia.

The top 15 scorers in the games and 10 trivia winners were then invited, along with three friends each, to the game itself on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse as guest VIPs.  Perks included access to a VIP lounge with enhanced concessions, “swag bags” filled with gifts, reserved seating and a chance to win one of five prize packages during a halftime drawing.

Those attending were even treated to a victory: the women’s team won the game, 79-47.

The Hope event’s main goal was to create excitement and gain student participation in the women’s basketball program.  Although overall student-attendance figures for the game aren’t available, on-site estimates that evening placed it at a record level.  The dining services figures for the dinner the previous evening corroborate that observation, with 1,492 attending instead of the usual 1,150.

“I am so proud of our team for this collaborative effort which included both our residential dining and retail teams and together, they helped promote a record-breaking student attendance at the Hope College Flying Dutch basketball game,” said Bob VanHeukelom, director of dining services at Hope.

Named for a NACUFS founder, past president and highly regarded innovator, the dining awards celebrate exemplary menus, presentations, special-event planning and new dining concepts, and provide an avenue for sharing ideas and creative presentations in dining services.  More than 80 colleges and universities across North America submitted entries in six categories, including not only “Residential Dining-Special Event,” but also “Residential Dining Concepts,” “Retail Sales-Single Concept,” “Retail Sales-Multiple Concepts/Market-place,” “Catering-Special Event” and “Catering-Online Menu.” A team of six judges examined the entries and selected top candidates in each category.

Recognition for medium schools in the “Residential Dining-Special Event” category included a gold award, three silver awards, two bronze awards and four honorable mentions.  A single grand prize winner was announced from among all of the small, medium and large programs that were honored.

Founded in 1958, NACUFS consists of institutions of higher education across the United States, Canada and abroad, and industry members from the food, equipment and consulting market segments.  Since its inception, NACUFS seeks to support and promote excellence in collegiate dining by providing members with educational and training opportunities, technical assistance, scholarships, industry information and research.