A Taste of Emporia State
When Emporia State University Foundation trustees were unable to gather in person for their 2020 annual meeting, the advancement team at the Kansas, U.S., university created a shared virtual experience instead.
- Baking In School Tradition
- The Power of Pizza
- A Taste of Emporia State
- Cuban Coffee and Collaboration
- Bagel Bites
“When bringing people to campus, a lot of times there would also be a meeting in town for a lunch or coffee—some sort of social aspect, whether that’s intentional or not—[and] through that you have a shared experience. How could we create that experience and send if off to people?” explains Sarah Eimer, former Director of Donor Relations.
The solution was the Just a Taste project, on which Eimer took the lead. The team decided to host a virtual meeting and mailed boxes containing local delicacies to trustees. They structured the agenda to include three tasting breaks.
The boxes contained the flavors of downtown Emporia, featuring food and beverages from small businesses owned and run by alumni or partners of the university.
During each course, Eimer would introduce the vendors and personalities behind the food.
“I enjoyed working with people in our community and telling their stories,” says Eimer. “We wanted the shared experience of food and beverage but to also make people aware of what a great community and support system we have, and how important they are to us.”
The first course consisted of a cold brew from Gravel City Roasters, described by Eimer as a “quirky shop that roasts their own coffee [and] where everyone is welcome,” a scone from Vault Meats & Cheeses, and honey harvested and donated by the 12-year-old son of the Foundation’s president. Every honey’s taste is different because it’s based on the local flowers’ nectar, “so that was truly a taste of Emporia,” says Eimer.
Course two was made up of meats and cheeses from Vault and a brightly colored cocktail or mocktail from Mulready’s Pub. The pub’s owner hosts a marketing and communications internship, has a scholarship with the university, and gave space to the art department for a mural on the back wall of the pub.
For course three, trustees got to taste a trio of sweets from Sweet Granada, a chocolate shop owned by an alumna who supports the university’s entrepreneurship program. Eimer picked chocolates with flavor profiles that would pair nicely with the course’s beverage—apple cider from a local orchard or hard cider from Twin Rivers Winery.
Trustees were quick to share positive reactions to the food and drinks and asked how to receive products outside of Emporia.
The Just a Taste boxes earned a 2022 bronze Circle of Excellence Award in Volunteer Engagement.
“Being a smaller school, it’s nice to be recognized on a global stage and know that we are capable of having a creative idea and executing it well,” says Jenni Denton, Associate Vice President for Advancement.
About the author(s)
Hannah Ratzer is Editorial Specialist at CASE.
Article appears in:
May - June 2023
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