Sodexo Campus Director of Culinary Innovation, Jennifer DiFrancesco, has devoted her culinary career to advancing plant-based menus. At the Humane Society of the United States, she worked on plant-based recipe development and culinary education, carrying her passion to Sodexo Campus where she now empowers other chefs in this vital menu shift.

Celeste Pietrzak of Binghamton University
Celeste Pietrzak of Binghamton University

In the past two years, Chef Jenn has traveled the country to engage Sodexo students and culinary teams around plant-based eating. From decadent, dairy-free Freakshakes to hand-rolled vegan sushi, she’s delivered on Gen Z student demand for craveable food with a low environmental impact.

These campus experiences got Jenn thinking about how Sodexo can make plant-based eating an everyday norm, not just an occasional pop-up event. What if the entire dining hall operated with sustainability top of mind, meeting the demands of our students, clients, and future generations?

Chef Jenn’s vision for a comprehensive resident dining offer, called Foodprint Foodhall, combines existing Sodexo menus and resources into a bold, carbon-conscious and feel-good campus dining experience. The concept recently won the global competition, Sodexo Innov’Challenge 2023. It emerged victorious against a field of over 1,000 competing innovations and was selected by Sodexo senior leadership in Paris.

Jenn’s climate-conscious concept proposes a menu that is 80% plant-based, 60% Mindful options, and 40% locally sourced ingredients. The dining hall also has a zero-waste focus, integrating WasteWatch by LeanPath, exclusively using energy-saving kitchen equipment, and completely eliminating single-use plastics, deferring to marine biodegradable options as necessary. The dining space itself reflects the beauty of nature with earth tone colors, live greenery, and recycled or upcycled furniture.

The result is a chef-driven, low carbon footprint dining destination that makes a difference every day. Jenn's vision challenges us to think about sustainability comprehensively, considering everything from smallwares to dessert to seating. When guests swipe in, they can trust that any choice they make is better for the planet.

This low-impact, global award-winning dining concept will now be discussed and developed for implementation on campuses. The launch of Chef Jenn’s vision will make a significant impact on Sodexo’s ambitious climate goals, including commitments to 50% plant-based campus menus by 2025, 70% low-carbon entrees by 2030, and boosting local purchasing to 40%.

Listen to Jenn's inspiration for a plant-forward, carbon-conscious dining hall below and keep an eye out for its evolution on campus: