Michigan State University Celebrates 30 Years of the Sparty’s Brand

FOR RELEASE: April 19, 2022 CONTACT: Ann Bertsch Brand Manager, Culinary Services 517-432-3948, bertscha@msu.edu


EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University (MSU) Culinary Services (CS) hosted a celebration recognizing 30 years of the Sparty’s brand Tuesday, March 15. Sparty’s mini-market locations across campus featured food and beverage samples provided by campus vendor partners, and special anniversary cookies from MSU Bakers, plus a special photo opportunity with Sparty, MSU’s iconic mascot, at Brody Hall.

“Our vendor foodservice partners have a unique opportunity to be on campus and engage with students at eight different Sparty’s locations and Sparty’s Market at 1855 Place,” shared Cheryl Berry, associate director of marketing & communications for MSU Culinary Services. During the celebration, students, faculty and support staff enjoyed an array of free samples to experience new product offerings at various locations on campus. “Our vendors play a significant role in what we offer to the campus community, so inviting them to be a part of the celebration was valuable for the CS team,” Berry said.

Doug Watters, regional sales manager for Lipari Foods, shared his thoughts about the event and how it impacted his business. “MSU is a great partner. Participating in sampling days on campus helps Lipari showcase the products we provide and gives us a chance to ask students and staff what other items they would like to see offered in the future.”

Watters also commented that MSU is genuinely unique because the team cares about what its customers want to eat. In addition, it wants to offer fresh and innovative products to make its venues a destination for new offerings. The culinary team made the day fun, and it was great to see all the interactions with Sparty.

The culinary team has achieved many significant milestones throughout Sparty’s history. They include adding coffeehouses, expanding payment options for staff and students, creating partnerships with local vendors and businesses, opening additional campus locations, rebranding and remodeling the stores, and enhancing services and products. The team also tries to stay current with dining trends while satisfying the wide variety of nutritional needs of students, staff and guests.

Chandos McCoy, manager of Sparty’s and vending, commented about how Sparty’s stores impact and benefit the MSU experience through on-campus employment opportunities. “Sparty’s has always been a student-focused organization, providing leadership opportunities to more than 150 Spartans each year. MSU Culinary Services is proud to provide a real-world learning experience to our Sparty’s students and give them valuable skills to take far into their careers.”

Sparty’s mini-markets have come a long way since MSU piloted the first store more than 30 years ago. Still, the mission remains the same: providing value, quality and superior service in a lively atmosphere while being innovative and committed to social responsibility to better serve the MSU community.

Trina Brown, key account manager, Northeast Region for Danone North America, noted that MSU students in this age group are Danone’s prime customers. So, attending these types of events on campus is time well spent and the company finds value in coming to campus to speak directly to the students. Brown said her interactions with the students are always excellent, and they are always so polite. They ask questions and provide feedback, which is helpful to take back to the brand team.

Today, Sparty’s mini-markets and Sparty’s Market at 1855 Place continue to provide various options from baked goods, snacks and sundries to hot and cold specialty drinks and convenient grab-and-go meals. MSU Culinary Services is prepared to continue evolving and growing the brand by adapting to dining trends, evaluating guest needs and further developing its vendor partnerships. The team also plans to continue offering more variety and catering to the needs of all Spartans based on feedback and sales.