Matthew Werth began his tenure as the new director of Campus Dining at Syracuse University in fall 2023. His charge is a simple one: Meet the dining needs of today’s college students.
His responsibilities will include residential dining (the University’s five all-you-can-eat dining centers), retail dining (the University’s 14 cafes, SUNY ESF dining, and three convenience stores), and athletic dining, which is focused on the specific nutrition and performance needs of all student athletes.
The guiding principle behind all of his work will be to take a student-centric approach to all aspects of Campus Dining. He’ll enhance student employment inside the department – Campus Dining has long been one of the largest employers of students on campus. Werth will seek out student “food ambassadors” to tell the story behind the University’s dining efforts. He’ll continue his predecessor’s work with the Food Services Accountability Committee, to hear regular, direct feedback from students about the food choices available to students. And he will oversee the department’s work with the Food Recovery Network, a student-run organization that works to collect unused food from dining centers and distributes it to local agencies serving Central New Yorkers experiencing food insecurity.
Werth joins Syracuse fresh from Penn State University and the University of Iowa, where he held key operational roles in Big Ten dining programs. His breadth of experience: food service leadership, restaurant management, and hospital dining administration, will assist his transition at Syracuse as he begins to guide the roughly 400 employees of the Campus Dining unit who comprise culinary operations at the University. Up first will be to review campus menus, modernize dining concepts to introduce a greater range of international flavors, and to build relationships across campus to gain insight into the culinary needs of the campus community.
Werth is well-versed in another issue of increasing importance in campus dining: crafting menus and options for students with special dietary needs. During his time at the University of Iowa, he collaborated with the campus registered dietitian to establish “Thrive,” a food concept focused on creating dishes without the Top 9 allergens or gluten. The concept focused on creating healthy, sustainable food for students with allergens, and designing an inclusive dining experience for all students.
“Matt’s history of high culinary standards combined with his track record of success at institutions of higher education made him the perfect fit for Syracuse University,” said Cheryl Fabrizi, associate vice president of Auxiliary Services. “The to-do list in Campus Dining is long, but Matt will be the change agent the University needs to deliver on its high standards.”