Tulane University Vietnamese Association

Most Outstanding Social Event - Food Social

Provide a detailed description of the event and the population it served. Details MUST include: date of event, number of participants, program purpose (goals, objectives, etc.), use of resources (finances, community support, etc.), and marketing techniques. 

Tulane University’s Vietnamese Association (TUVA) hosted their annual Food Social event on September 18, 2018 at the Lavin-Bernick Student Center (LBC). The event has always been put on in the beginning of the year during the fall semester, and it is TUVA’s first event that is put on for the entire undergraduate population of Tulane. Food Social is a free event that is meant to be a place where general members of TUVA as well as other students can come together and enjoy food representative of the Vietnamese culture. It included free Vietnamese food, a backdrop for photos, board games and card games at every table, and an interactive online game, Kahoot, during the slideshow. The event is to also show the student body what TUVA is all about. With a emcee from the executive board and slideshow, those in attendance learned more about the organization. This year was our largest year for Food Social with over 280 students in attendance. This was largely due in part to our marketing.
Food Social was heavily publicized. TUVA used traditionally channels to advertise such as on Facebook and Instagram. We also created a banner that was approved to hang in the LBC. As a student center, the LBC is a student hub, and the banner advertising Food Social was in a highly visible area. The most effective way that Food Social was advertised was through the executive board’s personal connections. Using groupme and personal messages, the executive board was able to reach different personal networks of friends and acquaintances that would have been interested in the event.
The budget of the event came from the budget allocated to us from our university. In the past we asked for food donations from restaurants, but this year we purchased the catered food. We chose to do so for two main reasons. It directly benefits the New Orleans Vietnamese community by supporting our local restaurants thereby strengthening our relationships with the local community. It also allowed us to bring more food to the event because we could control how much food was going to be ordered therefore allowing us to feed more people than in the past.

What efforts were used to motivate and involve the organization's members?

Food Social is a large production as it is an event that serves the whole community of Tulane. Putting on the event required help from our general members. Leading up to Food Social, TUVA held their first general meeting. At the general meeting, general members were asked to contribute their time to take on a shift at food social. Our general members stepped up to volunteer to help on the day of the event. The main jobs of the volunteers were to serve food while two volunteers also helped to document the event by taking photos. The general members who volunteered were incentivized to volunteer by reserving them a plate of food. Although not all general members volunteered, many of them came to the event and brought their friends. TUVA made a huge statement on Tulane's campus this day.

How did the organization overcome any challenges that arose while planning and implementing the event?

As with most events, TUVA had its own set of challenges that came about. Food was the main aspect of the event, and it was also the source of many challenges. It was difficult to decide on how much food to order and where we were going to order food. This is the first year that Food Social was free of charge, so we were expecting a much larger crowd. We could not base food orders on past years because of this. Even after deciding on food before the event, on the morning of the event we decided to order two more pans of food after gauging how many students would come to the event based off of the facebook event page. Because we were ordering food instead of receiving donations, we had to work with the university for payment. With a new treasurer who was unfamiliar with the payment process, the payments and checks for the restaurants were not going to be ready in time for the event. TUVA had to ask for help from the Office of Multicultural Affairs. They were able to assist us by allowing us to pay for food with their office credit card, and later we would reimburse them through our school budget.
Along with the large attendance, came with logistical issues during the actual events. Although the entire board was working and there were volunteers, it would have been helpful to have more volunteers to control the line as well as serving food. The venue was quite large which pointed out weaknesses in communication between the people who were working. Reflecting on the event, we found that different parts of the room were not communicating well in terms of what exactly was going on. For example, the food servers in the back knew the microphone was on a low volume, but did not communicate that to the emcee. After reflecting on the event, the board decided it will create a groupme for all the volunteers working as well as the executive board in order to have a direct channel of communication to everyone involved in the event.

Additional Comments 

TUVA's amazing social event was the first time that TUVA saw a large support from other VSAs, which sparked a volunteering wave throughout the year.