CWU News

CWU Dining Services Wins Prestigious National Award for Fresh Bar Concept

Fresh Bar opened in the SURC in spring 2020

CWU's Fresh Bar concept, which opened in spring 2020, earned a Loyal E. Horton Dining Award this spring.

Central Washington University Dining Services joined some elite company this spring, earning a Loyal E. Horton Dining Award for its groundbreaking Fresh Bar concept. 

The annual National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) Dining Awards celebrate exemplary menus, presentations, special event planning, and new dining concepts that are helping move the campus food industry forward. Central was the only state institution to receive the prestigious honor this year, and CWU’s Director of Dining Services Dean Masuccio says he couldn’t be more proud.

“It’s great for the team’s efforts to be recognized with this award because it highlights our program’s unique offerings and brings positive attention to the university and the community,” he said. “Fresh Bar hits the mark on so many components, including health and wellness, and our participation in the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative.”

Fresh Bar, introduced in the spring of 2020, received a silver award in the Retail Sales – Single Concept/Multiple Concepts/Marketplace category for medium-size institutions, earning the judges’ praise for its innovation and food preparation techniques.

The Central Marketplace food concept features a variety of menu items that includes avocado toast, granola parfait, superfood bowls, Mediterranean veggie bowls, Caesar salad, vegan chili, and Greek wraps. Optional proteins such as grilled chicken and salmon also are available, along with some vegan dishes. In addition, Fresh Bar serves fresh-squeezed juices, açai bowls, and draft kombucha while incorporating fresh ingredients from the Wildcat Neighborhood Farm.

Many items on the menu lean toward health and wellness, but the main goal of Fresh Bar is to appeal to a broad audience by providing additional variety and high-quality options to the campus community.

“The menu has evolved over the past two years because we want it to be well-received by all students, not just those who are seeking healthy options,” Campus Executive Chef Joe Ritchie said. “We have added some things to the menu and taken some things off, with the goal of offering simple, flavorful choices that resonate with a wide variety of students.”

Responding to student feedback is what brought the Fresh Bar concept to the fore during the 2019-20 academic year. Even after the pandemic interrupted daily operations, Dining Services decided to move forward with the launch because demand had been increasing for a number of years.

“I’m proud that we stayed with the concept during the pandemic because there were still students and essential staff left on campus who deserved to enjoy what we were doing,” Masuccio said. “I believe that is one of the reasons we drew national attention. We launched a brand-new concept during a very challenging time, and we received a lot of positive response for it.”

Dining Services is constantly evaluating its stations in Central Marketplace and Holmes Dining Room, hoping to maintain relevance for the campus community. They regularly involve student groups and perform taste tests to ensure the highest quality, seeking to become more “comprehensive over time.”

“Our program will never stop refreshing,” Masuccio said. “The students expect us to evolve, and their voices are very important to what we will be doing in the future.”

Media Contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs,, 509-963-1518