This fall, a new on-campus publication covering food-related content hopes to launch on the Yale campus.
Spoon University, a national online publication currently found on over 30 campuses, intends to open a new branch of the site at Yale and is currently accepting applications for a variety of positions, ranging from editorial roles to marketing jobs. The publication aims to span everything from recipes and restaurant reviews to dining hall “hacks.” Still, the exact impact it will have on campus food culture, as well as its relationship with existing food publications, has yet to be determined.
“People read [restaurant review blog] Chew Haven, people are obsessed with food photos on Instagram and people are sharing posts about food,” said Sarah Strong ’16, co-founder of the Yale chapter of Spoon University. “We will be making this [dialogue] more tailored to Yale.”
Spoon University’s model is similar to that of other college-oriented publications already launched at Yale, such as HerCampus, which operate on a national level while receiving content from teams of student contributors across different college campuses. Spoon is present in roughly 30 schools, with an intended 15 additional branches launching in the next few weeks, according to co-founder Mackenzie Barth.
Barth said she started Spoon University at her alma mater, Northwestern University, two years ago as a print publication with the intent to publish food-related news for the area. However, as she and her fellow co-founder continued to receive emails from students at other schools about replicating the model, they decided to expand.
“It became apparent that this was a need that was bigger than Northwestern,” Barth said. “Many schools didn’t have the technical background or editorial experience, so we wanted to standardize that process.”
However, unlike other campus publications, Spoon University is a for-profit enterprise. It operates on a business model in which brands interested in reaching the college demographic can connect with Spoon University contributors to publish posts. Still, Barth said that Spoon differentiates itself since on-campus branches are encouraged to build “food communities” through such events as potlucks and food discussions, in addition to maintaining publication responsibilities.
After seeing a post from a friend at University of Pennsylvania on Facebook, Strong said she contacted the national division of Spoon University last spring with the hopes of bringing it to Yale. She also solicited interest on campus via mass email and social media posting, she added.
“The people who have reached out [with interest] range from those already involved in Yale’s Pop-up restaurants or The Yale Epicurean, as well as some students I didn’t expect,” Strong said, adding that 20 to 30 students have already expressed serious interest.
Spoon University for Yale Undergraduates received approval by the Undergraduate Organizations Committee (UOC) this fall, Strong said, adding that her goal is to get the first official post published by fall break.
Before Spoon officially launches on campus however, interested students must send applications to the Spoon headquarters, where the national team will assign such roles as co-president, editor and marketer. Barth noted that her team — after 30 to 40 accepted applications from different campuses — is qualified to identify the necessary qualities for Spoon management boards across the country. The final steps for students include going through an online orientation training program, which cover style guides and tone, and ultimately holding the first meeting to discuss story ideas, she added.
Feedback from existing food publications, most notably the Yale Epicurean, was positive.
Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Epicurean Earl Lee ’15 said the group is in the process of pivoting away from publishing content to becoming more of a food interest group. He said the last time the Epicurean published a print edition was in the spring of 2013, and after converting to online only more than a year ago, the group will officially stop publishing.
“[Spoon] is more of a light-hearted publication and one that will put out recipes, reviews — not like the academic papers we are trying to go for,” he said. “It is probably better to consolidate and since Spoon has the backing of a larger organization, it is probably more sustainable.”
The Epicurean will continue to host events such as a tastings, pasta making classes and field trips to New York. He hopes that as The Epicurean stops publishing content, the two organizations will have somewhat distinct roles, yet maintain a “good, symbiotic relationship.”
The deadline to apply for a role with the Yale branch of Spoon is this Wednesday.