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Variety of foods on table

Nestlé Professional, Wholesome Crave and UMass Dining Launch Purpose-Driven Plant-Based Incubator™ to Accelerate Shift in College and University Menus

In response to student demand, new workshops and a program-based Playbook will guide introduction of craveable and operationally friendly menu items to drive scaled change

Amherst, MA, Feb. 6, 2023 – Today, Nestlé Professional, Wholesome Crave and The University of Massachusetts Dining Program (UMass Dining) announce the launch of a first-of-its-kind partnership that offers college and university foodservice operators turn-key tips, fully-developed recipes and workshops, and collaboration to help speed the introduction of more sustainable, delicious plant-forward offerings on campus menus. The Purpose-Driven Plant-Based Incubator™ was developed in collaboration with four-time James Beard Award Winner Chef Michel Nischan of Wholesome Crave and the culinary team at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the number one U.S. college dining program for six years running according to the Princeton Review.


For 2023, more than 12 other universities have signed up to participate with the Incubator, including the University of Minnesota Duluth, Kent State University, Vanderbilt University, the University of California, Santa Barbara, Montreal's Concordia University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With the current launch partners, the program has the ability to impact over 500,000 student meals a day.


“At Nestlé Professional, we’re committed to helping our partners address the new realities of the foodservice landscape. This Purpose-Driven Plant-Based Incubator™ does just that – it showcases plant-forward recipes while providing guidance on how to reduce operators’ and students’ carbon footprints,” said Perry Miele, president and CEO of Nestlé Professional. “In addition to the Playbook we’re offering, the Incubator program will include hands-on workshops and collaboration to help partners customize their own journey, no matter if they’re a small college with a single dining hall or an entire university system with dozens of foodservice venues.”  


The new Incubator, modeled after the UMass Dining plant-forward menu program, was created in response to foodservice providers reporting increased demand for a wider variety of globally inspired, flavor-driven, plant-forward options. The program addresses how best to develop flavorful plant-forward recipes, streamline dish preparation, introduce cooking techniques that enhance flavor, work within budget constraints and simplify operational challenges. There is also the ability to inform students and operators about the emissions footprint of their meal via on-menu carbon labeling. The Incubator is intended to be a space to share insight and knowledge amongst existing and new partners, and to ideate and test new opportunities, recipes and approaches to successfully accelerate the adoption of more plant-based options.


Recipes in the Playbook include Tres Hermanas Enchiladas made with Sweet Earth® Mindful Chik’nMinor’s® Vegan Alfredo and Wholesome Crave® Native Three Sisters Soup, a Sweet Earth® Breakfast Sausage Patty Sandwich, and a Bucatini Bolognese made with Sweet Earth® Awesome Grounds and Wholesome Crave® Tomato Basil Soup. Each menu item includes a plant-based soup from Wholesome Crave that adds flavor depth and richness, while offering a unique speed-scratch solution.


“The Plant-Based Incubator aligns our partners’ shared values to make delicious, plant-forward menu options affordable and doable, while leveraging the power of food to make the world a better place for everyone,” said Chef Michel Nischan, founder of Wholesome Crave. “At Wholesome Crave, we believe that everyone, regardless of race, age, ethnicity, or income has the right to eat delicious, nutritious food. Our support for our non-profit Wholesome Wave, and ground-breaking partnerships like this innovative incubator project make that happen.”


On November 3, menu items from the Playbook were debuted at an event hosted by Incubator founders on the UMass Amherst campus. Members of the university student body, faculty and the general public were invited to try the new dishes for the first time and share feedback.


“We are excited to collaborate with the world’s largest food manufacturer, Nestlé Professional, and mission driven organization, Wholesome Crave, which ties together the strategic vision of UMass Dining to create a better world. Studies done at the UMass Dining Living Laboratory® find that Gen Z students increase consumption of plant forward ingredients when incorporated with authentic global recipes,” said Ken Toong, Executive Director of Auxiliary Enterprises at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “This latest initiative demonstrates how we can continue to use our culinary expertise and state of the art facilities to drive our industry by inspiring students to enjoy a plant forward diet now and into the future.”


Food production accounts for roughly 25% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Recent research has shown that communities and people shifting toward more plant-forward diets can have big effects on climate impact.


“Students, faculty and staff have been asking for more plant-forward options, so we are thrilled to bring them delicious new menu offerings created in collaboration with James Beard award-winning Chef Michel Nischan and our partners at Nestlé Professional,” said Jeff Weissinger, Assistant Director of Residential Operations at Vanderbilt University. “We prioritize serving a wide variety of nourishing food to our diners and responding to their feedback, so we can’t wait to be one of the first universities to participate in this groundbreaking Purpose-Driven Plant-Based Incubator. We think the program has the potential to drive scaled change in foodservice across the country.”

Other organizations interested in learning more about Nestlé Professional, Wholesome Crave and UMass’ Purpose-Driven Plant-Based Incubator™ and Playbook can reach out to a Nestlé Professional chef at 


About Nestlé Professional

Nestlé Professional is dedicated to being an inspiring growth partner that delivers creative branded food and beverage solutions, enabling foodservice operators to delight their consumers. From innovative food systems under Sweet Earth®, Minor's®, Stouffer's®, Chef-mate®, Libby's Pumpkin®, along with beverage systems under Nescafé®, Nestlé Vitality® and Coffee-mate® brands, Nestlé Professional meets the needs of foodservice operators while satisfying the tastes of the out-of-home consumer. Nestlé Professional is a division of Nestlé, the world's largest food and beverage company. It is present in 190 countries around the world, and its 328,000 employees are committed to the Nestlé purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future. Nestlé is based in the Swiss town of Vevey where it was founded more than 150 years ago. For more foodservice product news and information, please visit Nestlé Professional.


About Sweet Earth Foods

Sweet Earth Foods is an award-winning, vegetarian and vegan food brand that offers a wide variety of culinary-driven, mindfully made products. Founded in California, Sweet Earth has won over plant-forward flavor-seekers and those looking to reduce meat in their diets by offering a diverse portfolio of delicious, nutritious new takes on timelessly appealing foods, from its Awesome Burger, Mindful Chik'n™ and complete entrees, to breakfast items and snacks. More information at and


About Wholesome Crave

Wholesome Crave creates exceptional plant-based, clean-label soups using whole, sustainably sourced ingredients. Chef Michel Nischan started Wholesome Crave with the powerful belief that healthy fruits and vegetables could change the lives of people struggling with poverty and nutrition insecurity. Every Wholesome Crave purchase directly supports increased nutritional security through the work of his non-profit partner organization, Wholesome Wave. Wholesome Wave-designed programs have reached millions of low-income Americans with healthy fruits and vegetables. Wholesome Wave is the only food equity nonprofit to achieve permanent legislation in the Federal Farm Bill. More information at and


About UMass Dining

UMass Dining is the largest and most awarded collegiate dining program in America, serving 50,000 meals a day, and is a recognized channel leader in the college and university dining segment because of its focus on quality ingredients and meals, customer service, student health and wellness, customization options, an appreciation of global influences and modern eating trends, and creating community on campus. Its mission is to support and improve the student experience at UMass Amherst. More information at