Compass Group and Northwestern University Partner to Battle Food Insecurity

EVANSTON, Illinois — Compass Group – powered by Chartwells Higher Education – and Northwestern Dining are working to combat the challenge of food insecurity faced by students on campus. Compass is teaching students how to create nutritious meals with budget-friendly strategies and food from the Purple Pantry food pantry. Meanwhile a student-created website called the Wildcat Food Guide features recipes from Compass and advice for students on stretching their food budgets.

“Unfortunately, food insecurity persists despite the existence of conventional support like financial aid, campus food programs and even employment,” Chartwells Higher Education Vice President of Sustainability and Culinary Services, Laura Lapp said. “This forces students to make difficult decisions every day when they don’t have access to quality food. It can have harmful effects on their education and future.”

The Purple Pantry, led by Mary Deeley, pastoral associate and director of Christ the Teacher Institute, is one weapon in Northwestern’s battle against food insecurity. The on-campus pantry at the Sheil Catholic Center has been visited more than 300 times by 80 students. Compass Group is piloting a series of bi-weekly hands-on teaching kitchens to instruct students on cooking basics and how to make healthful meals with economical and nutrition-packed ingredients. The Wildcat Food Guide includes cost-conscious nutrient dense recipes provided by Compass as well as shopping tips to help students stretch their food budget, while listing resources for food assistance.

“Students who are food insecure often experience a double disadvantage — hunger and social isolation,” said Lisa Carlson, registered dietitian nutritionist for Northwestern University Dining. “Our approach is to provide multiple resources to help students gain confidence in the kitchen and enjoy making delicious and healthful meals.”

Nearly half of the full-time undergraduate students at Northwestern University are on some form of financial aid through grants or need-based scholarships. So while colleges and universities nationwide are making education more accessible, some students are still forced to choose between paying for school and feeding themselves according to a study released by Temple University.

In interviews with 86,000 students at 100 institutions, researchers learned that 45% said they had been food insecure in the previous month and 17% said they had been homeless within the previous year. A third of those surveyed said they have been eating smaller meals while 8% said they have gone an entire day without eating.

About Compass Group

Compass Group PLC is the world’s leading food service company, which generated annual revenues of $29 billion in 2017.  It operates in nearly 50 countries, employs more than 550,000 people and serves roughly 5.5 billion meals a year. The Company specializes in providing food and a range of support services across the core sectors of Business & Industry, Healthcare & Seniors, Education, Sports & Leisure and Defense, Offshore & Remote, with an established brand portfolio. 

About Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services
Chartwells is the recognized leader in contract food service management, hospitality and award-winning guest service within 280 college and university dining environments throughout academic institutions across the U.S. Chartwells’ nutritious cuisine not only satisfies the unique appetites, lifestyles and dietary needs of every guest dining on campus, but it also brings people together to promote the high-intensity relationships that will prepare students for the future. For more information, visit,

About Northwestern University

Founded in 1851, Northwestern University is one of the country’s leading private research and teaching universities with an enrollment of approximately 8,000 full-time undergraduate students and approximately 8,000 full-time graduate and professional students and approximately 2,000 part-time students on campuses in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, and Doha, Qatar. Northwestern combines innovative teaching and pioneering research in a highly collaborative environment that transcends traditional academic boundaries. Northwestern provides students and faculty exceptional opportunities for intellectual, personal and professional growth in a setting enhanced by the richness of Chicago.