Northwestern Dining hosts food-rich Fall Festi-Ful


Esther Lim/The Daily Northwestern

The Fall Festi-Ful outside Norris University Center. Attendees could choose from a host of activities, including pumpkin painting and bouquet arranging.

Mitra Nourbakhsh, Reporter

Pumpkins, flowers and food filled tables on Norris University Center’s East Lawn on Thursday as students enjoyed the sunshine and festivities at Northwestern Dining’s Fall Festi-Ful.

Norris staple Viet Nom Nom, Jewish comfort food company Schmaltz and Vinegar and other vendors offered free samples to attendees. Participants also had the opportunity to paint pumpkins and arrange flower bouquets while listening to music from a live DJ.

Compass Group, NU’s food service provider, put on the Fall Festi-Ful as part of an ongoing national “Joy-Ful” campaign. More than 300 universities across the country simultaneously held their own Fall Festi-Ful events, Compass Group District Marketing Manager Sophia Bamiatzis said in an email to The Daily. The events aimed to reunite campus communities, celebrate the impact of local farmers and vendors and create uplifting moments centered around food.

NU Dining’s 11 vendors included Chicago-area businesses Kombucha Brava, Every Body Eat and Blossom.

Blossom co-Founder Billy Grady said his business’s superfood lattes aim to reduce stress and promote a calm, focused mind. Every Body Eat’s allergen-free crackers are also uniquely suited for college student needs, co-Founder Dick Thomas said. The products are safe for people with Celiac disease who cannot eat gluten.

“The fact that 96% of people with food allergies can safely eat our food is a big deal,” Thomas said.  

Going to college, Thomas said, is scary for students with food allergies, so having a snack they feel comfortable eating is very important.

Bienen senior John Cao said he appreciated having an opportunity to unwind at the Festi-Ful.

“It’s great that we’re having some fall festivities,” Cao said. “It’s a nice break from the stress of classes.”

Cao said he didn’t know about the event until he biked past it but enjoyed the doughnuts all the same.

Weinberg sophomore Ben Hirschboeck, who attended last year’s Thank-Ful event from the Joy-Ful campaign, also encountered the Festi-ful by chance. He said this celebration was even better because it had more goods.

“If it’s not clear,” Hirschboeck said, “I am here for the free stuff.” 

The Festi-Ful experienced high attendance, according to Blossom Co-Founder Jeremy Schmidt. He said just one hour into the event, the Festi-Ful had easily surpassed the projected attendance  of 300 people for his table.

However, Weinberg freshman Azi Zi said the event’s 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. timing was not ideal for students with busy schedules.

“I wish it happened a little later in the day,” she said. “People have classes.” 

The Joy-Ful event series will continue throughout the academic year, Bamiatzis said, but details on future events are yet to be released.

Cao said he would like to see the festival return next year, with one change. 

“More free food,” he said. “The more the merrier, right?”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @mitralouw

Related Stories: 

VSA Hosts Moonlit Celebration of Mid-Autumn Festival

Students and alumni to celebrate Homecoming week with food trucks, tailgates and football

The Daily Explains: How years of advocacy led to new contract between Northwestern’s service workers and Compass Group