It Starts with A “Yes”

It Starts with A “Yes”

Growth doesn’t happen with a closed mind. Our President and Founder, Mary Thornton, describes it as a “say yes” mentality. It’s how we continue to grow and how we became the most forward-thinking campus dining experience out there. From small ideas that might change up a morning routine to big ideas that could affect our geological community, here are a few of the ideas-turned-reality we’ve had in the past year.


The Harvest Table team at Rochester has always prided itself on their ability to build strong partnerships. The food service at the school has been well-received by both the students and the local community, but the Harvest Table team wanted more.


They didn’t just want to serve fresh, seasonal and local ingredients to students on campus—they wanted to fully immerse their students in the local culinary community.

local food event
chef serving students

The team went to work, leveraging partnerships to create various events on-and-off campus. Some of these events included:
Station takeovers with local partners

  • Iron Chef competitions
  • Partner farm field trips
  • Student-involved donation events


There’s a tendency for food service brands to work in silos. This gets food on the table, but not in a way that benefits student satisfaction and community growth. High Point wanted to try something new.

They wanted in collaboration between all parts and pieces of the Harvest Table operation—and of course, we said “yes”. This allowed us to share our different knowledge, expertise and feedback between teams but in the context of a shared mission.

Recently, our insights team recognized a need for tech-driven food ordering. They worked hand-in-hand with chefs, digital teams and High Point management to create a mobile ordering platform that provided convenience to the students without sacrificing the campus budget or quality of food.

fish on a plate


Wake Forest has experienced an influx in international Asian students in recent years, resulting in a growing need for authentic global flavor. Other campus dining programs may try to mimic international flavors, but Harvest Table said, “What if we collaborated with students to help ensure our flavors are authentic? What if we create an experience around the process?”

We started with a recipe development session where the team shared knowledge and ideas around Asian cuisine. We tried new restaurants, spoke to our international students and collaborated with local restaurants specializing in Asian cuisine.

We ended up producing an experience where students could enjoy authentic flavors that reminded them of home, and others got to see where these dishes come from and how they’re prepared. Where the students were brought into the conversation, able to influence their own daily experience?

students getting food
chefs engaging students

We’ll continue to collaborate and push each other. Continue to say yes to game-changing ideas for our communities and the campuses we serve.

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