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Are Your Attendees Ready for Food for Thought?

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Assorted local cheeses at our May Tasting

In the community of event professionals, Food for Thought is often a topic of discussion. Without speaking too scientific, food for thought is defined as food options high in nutritional value which stimulates brain activity and enhances meeting performance, attention and overall experience. As research is performed and results of food for thought items are shared among meeting professionals in the industry, more planners are developing an interest in what their attendees are consuming and venues are rising to the requests. However, are meeting planners and venues the only ones excited about food for thought?

As a venue who is active in the #eventprofs community, we like listening and responding to what attendees are saying, online and offline. Walking through the halls yesterday, I heard “Boiled eggs, I’ve seen better snacks.” and “Hummus, it’s so bland.”

After approaching Executive Chef Craig Mason with the news, he said,

“Planners are all about food for thought. But, when we place a ‘build your own trail mix’ on the break stations with mixed nuts, raisins, dried blueberries, banana chips, Reeses Pieces and plain M&Ms. Attendees kill the Reeses Pieces and M&Ms, leaving the rest.”

However, as event professionals we’ve come a long way and these same attendees who prefer the candy may also be the ones who are wondering where the fried chicken is at lunch. Our current break-station rotation includes food for thought items such as hard boiled eggs with flavored salts, hummus with pretzels and crackers, vegetable crudité, assorted cheese cubes and a ‘make your own trail mix’ bar. On Fridays, our break-stations feature cookies and brownies as a special treat; attendees also won’t feel the 2:00 sugar crash as most meetings adjourn early afternoon on a Friday, but for attendees to choose the unhealthier option demonstrates to a venue and for meeting planners, we still have a long way to go.

What’s the solution? Education! For the break-stations, we’re designing a food for thought card explaining why those options were chosen for the break-station, the benefits and how to make smarter choices for day-to-day healthy living and enhanced meeting performance. It’s all about educating planners, venues and attendees on the subject of food for thought. Feel free to read our Food for Thought white paper with Andrea Sullivan of BrainStrength Systems.

What has been your encounter with attendees and break-station choices? Is it favorable or do you also view this as an opportunity for education?