Campus food changes are sweet for local businesses

September 07, 2016 / by / 0 Comment

By Karen Fernau
GCU News Bureau

Grand Canyon University’s unwavering support of the local community — from feeding the homeless, raising money for childhood cancer treatment to building homes for the needy — is expanding into campus kitchens.

Led by the new student-operated Grand Canyon Beverage Company (GCBC), GCU is turning to a record number of local food companies to feed students, faculty and staff.

Grand Canyon Beverage Company features doughnuts from Fractured Prune Doughnuts, which has eight Arizona locations. (Photo by Darryl Webb)

Grand Canyon Beverage Company features doughnuts from Fractured Prune Doughnuts, which has eight Arizona locations. (Photo by Darryl Webb)

“We really care about our local community and wanted to do business with other local businesses,” said Brennan Williams, general manager of GCBC, during a jam-packed lunch hour.

“Yes, we want GCU to flourish, but we want the community to flourish with us.”

The coffee, tea, donuts and pastries sold at GCBC are from Phoenix-area companies.

According to backers of GCU’s local initiative, buying local strengthens the Phoenix-area economy and employment. According to the U.S. Small Business Association, 55 percent of all jobs in America are offered by small businesses.

GCU is more committed than ever to buying local whenever possible, said Zach Casavant, marketing and communications director for Sodexo & GCU Dining. GCU’s support of locally owned businesses also gives students more choices and fresher foods.

“We support local businesses and the local economy while providing students with a more personal choice of foods,” Casavant said. “Often there are advantages in freshness and quality when bought from a nearby place. No need for freezing.”

Brennan Williams

Brennan Williams

Produce grown by local farmers, for example, is sold at the Friday farmers markets on campus.

For Laura Briscoe, owner of Laura’s Gourmet Granola in Tempe, GCU’s support boosts both cereal sales and product credibility.

“GCU has so much recognition now that to say we are on campus is great for us,” she said.

Her granola is available beginning this week at Chaparral Natural C-Store.

“We hope the students who buy the granola become customers for life,” said Briscoe, a former high-tech marketer turned chef who in 2004 began selling the granola she had been making for family and friends.

The following is a sampling of other local companies now providing food and beverages at GCU:

Press Coffee: Steve Kraus and his wife, Tram Mai, an anchor for Channel 12 in Phoenix, opened their first shop in 2010 at Scottsdale Quarter. Today, the couple has expanded to shops in Phoenix, Tempe and at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Press is known for coffee roasted in small batches from Ethiopia, Peru, Costa Rica, Brazil, Sumatra and Guatemala.

Mission Possible Cookies: These cookies are baked from scratch by women in the vocational training program at Phoenix Rescue Mission, a non-profit organization that offers services for the homeless.  Every aspect, from baking, packing to marketing, is done by women who once faced homelessness. Flavors include Changing Lives Chocolate Chip, Cin-no-More and Life By Chocolate.

Fractured Prune Doughnuts: This boutique donut maker, founded in 1976 in Ocean City, Md., has eight Arizona locations. Its hot donuts are hand dipped and topped to order. Glazes include banana, caramel, cherry, chocolate, key lime, marshmallow, mocha, mint, berries and vanilla. The 13 toppings include chocolate sprinkles, cookie crumbs, bacon, sea salt and vanilla wafers.

Strictly From Scratch: This Phoenix-based wholesale bakery provides fresh-baked goodies daily to hotels, resorts, restaurants, airlines, grocery stores and now GCU.

White Lion Traditional Tea Company: Started in 1998 by Kathryn Petty, founder and president, the Scottsdale-based company specializes in high-quality, whole-leaf, hand-harvested black, green, white, oolong and herbal teas.

Contact Karen Fernau at (602) 639-8344 or


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