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Students investigate ethics and food in New Orleans

September 20, 2013

The idea that food is huge in New Orleans is an understatement, but a class for freshmen this fall at Loyola University New Orleans is showing the dynamics of Crescent City cuisine, from its impact on families and the community to its role in business.

Students in Loyola’s First-Year Experience class “Dishing It Up: The Business of Food in New Orleans” are studying various organizational structures found in the New Orleans food service industry and exploring how those organizations meet the needs of the local community.

“In New Orleans and elsewhere, food is central to our communities and to cultures. All of our holidays, time spent with family and loved ones, and many of our most influential memories often, to some degree, involve food preparation or consumption. Communities historically center on food, as well,” said Frankie J. Weinberg, Ph.D., assistant professor of management in Loyola’s College of Business, who teaches the class.

Throughout the semester, the class will also visit with local food service industry businesses, including the NOLA Food Co-Op, Whole Foods, Hollygrove Market & Farm and the La Cocinita food truck, whose proprietor, Rachel Billow, also heads the city’s Food Truck Coalition.

Before each site visit, students will research the type of business they will be visiting, the system of organizational structure employed by this business, and in some cases the characteristics of the neighborhood or community in which the business is located. During site visits, a representative of each business will give a tour to students, who will be tasked with learning some of the personal stories of the employees, customers and other organizational stakeholders.

In addition to the three site visits, the food truck’s visit to campus, and the typical class activities, the largest graded component of the class involves students developing and exploring a real community need in New Orleans and how they believe a particular food industry organization can help meet that need. Students will share their proposals with decision makers from the organization involved.

The course introduces students to college-level thinking and learning in an experiential manner and supports Loyola’s Jesuit tradition under the overarching themes of “thinking critically” and “acting justly.”

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Loyola at a Glance is written and distributed for the faculty, staff, students and friends of Loyola University New Orleans. It is published by the Office of Public Affairs, Greenville Hall, Box 909, 7214 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118. (504) 861-5888.

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