Mia Wise, Staff Writer
Calling all Mason food lovers: Spoon University is bringing a chapter to our campus. It’s time to prep your kitchens and stomachs for recipes and tips.
Spoon University is a website for students who are navigating kitchens on their own for the first time. Calling itself “the everyday food resource for our generation, on a mission to make food make sense,” Spoon University is comprised of daily posts written by college students from over 100 colleges and universities, including nearby campuses like Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, American University and Georgetown University.
Mason’s Spoon University chapter will open in mid-March.
The website is divided into sections based on the different college chapters, giving readers insight into the types of food students are eating around the country. For example, University of Georgia students are eating different things than students at the University of Chicago.
Spoon University began as a print magazine in 2012 and launched as a website in 2013. Co-founders and Northwestern University alumni MacKenzie Barth and Sarah Adler wanted the website to be a source for college students to learn about all things food-related.
“My partner [Adler] and I started this as just a print mag at Northwestern in fall 2012. It was a passion project,” Barth said. “We wanted to bring people together around food. We did these guacamole-making competitions — guac-offs. And we were always throwing potlucks. We thought it was strange that there was no publication around that. Senior year we launched the print magazine. Then we launched a dinky website in fall 2013, with five [college] sites,” Barth said in an interview with Yahoo! Food.
Spoon University’s content is written by college students, and, like BuzzFeed Food, its layout is less formal than more traditional food websites. Articles are centered on things college students care about and offer easy recipes that anyone with a microwave can follow.
On the website, users can find tips, easy recipes and any news that has to do with food or the relationships people have with it. Examples of trending articles include “The 50 Best Doughnuts in America,” “20 Desserts That’ll Make You Wanna Be Paleo for the Night” and “The Skinny on Skinny-Shaming.”
The website even includes a feature called “Dining Out” where users can type in their address and receive recommendations for nearby restaurants.
Editorial Director of the Mason chapter and sophomore, Shannon Lobb, was interested in starting a chapter, so she emailed Spoon University headquarters. The site’s editors then told Lobb that she would need to get a petition signed by 300 people before the chapter could begin.
“I wanted to start a chapter here at Mason because like many college students I love food,” Lobb said. “I wanted to be a part of a club that cooks together and hosts food-related events. Overall, Spoon University is a fun and cool organization, and I think GMU would really benefit from having it on campus.”
Around the same time time that Lobb was thinking about starting a chapter, health administration major Adrienne Galang was just finding out about Spoon University. Unlike Lobb, however, Galang says her encounter with Spoon was more a matter of chance.
“I don’t remember exactly how or when I subscribed to their [Spoon University’s] newsletter, but I started getting emails from Spoon University,” Galang, who is now community manager for Mason’s Spoon University chapter, said. “I ignored them at first, but one day I was bored, going through my inbox and actually read through an email from them. I regretted not looking at it sooner because it instantly grabbed my attention.”
Once Galang visited the website, she was hooked. “I … found a lot of cool stuff and followed [Spoon University] on their social media accounts.”
Galang said she finally reached out to the website’s editors after seeing a post on their Instagram account that gave instructions for starting a chapter. Galang emailed Spoon’s editors, who put her in contact with Lobb. The rest is history.
But Spoon University is not just about the food. It also gives its contributors an editorial experience. The website states that “behind the scenes, we’re helping teach the next generation of journalists, marketers and event planners the best practices in digital media. We empower a network of over 5,000 contributors at 100+ college campuses to write, photograph, create videos and throw events.”
Not only do contributors learn about writing, photography and videography, they also get to be a part of a program called “Secret Sauce” that offers leadership and other skill training. Their contributors get personalized analytics on what’s working and what’s not working for their chapter’s section of the website.
“Spoon University is the destination for and by young people. We cover everything from the latest food news and unintimidating recipes, to how to navigate your first kitchen and recover from a deadly hangover. Basically, we make food make sense,” the Spoon University newsletter says.