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Student starts Spoon University chapter at Notre Dame

| Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Notre Dame is now home to a chapter of Spoon University, an online magazine for food recipes, restaurant recommendations and more.

“At Spoon ND, our goal is to put out super fun and informative content that will change the way college students think about food,” Kristin Brennan, the site’s editor-in-chief, said. “We cover everything from the best local restaurants and simple recipes that can be made in a dorm room to how to recover from a hangover and cook and eat healthfully. We hope that our content will encourage students to eat and drink in good company and view food as more than just sustenance.”

Spoon University Notre Dame’s chapter was founded in March by junior Channing Foster, who is the site’s marketing director. The idea to bring Spoon University to Notre Dame came from her experiences at home for break at Washington D.C., where Spoon University has a strong presence among local universities.

“I went home and thought, ‘There’s no reason Notre Dame shouldn’t have a chapter,’” Foster said. “So I e-mailed the woman in charge of growth at Spoon, and she gave me a call a day later. We talked about it, and it seemed like Notre Dame was a great place to start a chapter.”

Spoon University was first started as a print magazine at Northwestern in 2009, moved online and expanded to the national level in 2014, Foster said, and the process of bringing a chapter to Notre Dame was a long, intensive one, involving student support and feedback from the staff of the national magazine.

“There’s actually a much more demanding process than even I realized it was going to be, but it’s cool — once you went through it all, you really know it’s a legit organization,” Foster said.

To begin the formal process of starting a chapter, Foster had a week to get 400 signatures on a petition to expand the site to Notre Dame, she said.

“There was a lot of ‘stealing’ a lot of e-mails from listservs, mass e-mailing the athletics department and a lot of tweeting, but we managed to get over 500 signatures, which is great,” she said. “Once you have the signatures … then they open a live application [for writers and editors], which was the hardest part as it was very intensive. You had to write a sample story, you have to explain why you’d be a great candidate for Spoon, and you had to upload your résumé.”

Foster said she chose the position of marketing director, the national Spoon University team chose the editor-in-chief and creative director and the new Notre Dame leadership chose the rest of the staff. Brennan said the hard work of launching the site three weeks after the editorial staff was hired paid off as reception to the new chapter far exceeded expectations.

“The launch was really successful,” Brennan said, “Our goal was to have every article to have over 500 page views, and we have at least three that went over a thousand and one was at 1,500 [pageviews] just in the first couple of days. We wanted 500 views in a week, and in one or two days a couple of them gone over 1,000.”

Brennan said the team is still trying to spread the word even more. They plan to give out food during finals week and continue to aggressively market Spoon University. They will also plan for even greater growth in both manpower and scope, taking on more writers, editors and photographers and accepting opinion pieces on topics going beyond food.

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