Not long before the pandemic, Trenna Grice was listening to actor, TV personality and historically Black college and university (HBCU) alum Terrence J speak at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s annual awards gala.
“I saw his energy with the students and how they were captivated by him speaking,” says Grice, senior director of business development for Elior North America, which runs Aladdin Campus Dining.
Grice was later introduced to Terrence J through a friend, and with an assist from some contacts at Thurgood Marshall, helped form a partnership between the actor and Aladdin to promote healthy eating initiatives at the HBCUs that Aladdin serves.
While COVID-19 has forced the partnership to go mostly virtual, the team has still found ways to engage students around healthier choices.
Ramping up online
Most of Terrence J’s help so far has been endorsing and promoting the plant-based options at Aladdin’s new concept called Vegebond.
“[Vegebond] is a pop-up program that can be utilized in any of our dining establishments, and everything is plant-based,” says Grice. “So, when we started that program, it went hand-in-hand with what Terrence was trying to do.”
Aladdin arranged a photo shoot and tasting at Bowie State University in Maryland for Terrence J to try the menu items and shoot some promotional materials for the concept.
He was “blown away” by the dishes, says Grice, and the team started rolling out different promotional assets featuring him and Vegebond. So far, the student response to the partnership and the new plant-based dishes has been positive.