EunHa “Lena” Jeong sees plenty of opportunity for restaurants in the United States to adopt eco-friendly practices — a move she says can generate positive consumer impressions. Photo by Blake Lanser.
EunHa “Lena” Jeong sees plenty of opportunity for restaurants in the United States to adopt eco-friendly practices — a move she says can generate positive consumer impressions. Photo by Blake Lanser.

Jeong brings expertise in restaurant green practices, healthy menus

EunHa “Lena” Jeong sees plenty of opportunity for restaurants in the United States to adopt eco-friendly practices — a move she says can generate positive consumer impressions.

“Restaurants can have a big impact,” she said. “They create lots of waste.”

Jeong is a new assistant professor in hospitality management at Iowa State University who earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from Purdue University.

Her research shows that restaurants that use green practices such as energy-efficient lighting and recyclable containers cut their carbon footprints and cultivate positive attitudes. Green practices can also help restaurants lower their operational expenses.

“A restaurant that’s more efficient costs less to operate,” she said.

Adopting healthy menus

Jeong says strict recycling regulations in her home country of South Korea inspired her to research the impact of green practices in the food service industry.

“We were thrilled that Lena decided to join the AESHM team,” said Bob Bosselman, professor and chair of apparel, events, and hospitality management. “She had a strong record of productivity as a doctoral student in Purdue’s hospitality program.   Her research interests combining consumer behavior and the food service industry have significant potential for future funded projects.”  

Jeong is also interested in helping restaurants adopt healthy menu items.

She said the obesity crisis in the United States is a major incentive for restaurants to move toward healthier offerings. She said restaurants play a significant role in the obesity epidemic, particularly as Americans eat more of their meals away from home.

“We can’t just let the obesity crisis happen,” she said.

Growing awareness of the importance of good nutrition leads to higher demand for healthy menu items. Restaurants have responded by creating healthful sub-brands and pairing main dishes with healthier side dishes.

Handling errors with grace

As an instructor, Jeong will provide future restaurant managers with the skills to provide great service — and how to handle errors with grace.

“How the manager handles a service failure situation has a big impact on whether or not the customer will return,” she said.

Jeong said she is looking forward to teaching classes in the Joan Bice Underwood Tearoom at Iowa State.

There, students in culinary science, dietetics, and hospitality management learn firsthand how to plan a meal, how to cook for large groups, how to manage events, and how to deliver outstanding customer service. They learn how to deal with any challenge that might arise by practicing the roles of food preparers, managers, servers, and guests.

“I love to work with students in the lab environment,” she said.

Dynamic and interactive

In the classroom, Jeong strives for instruction that’s dynamic and interactive. She likes to use visual cues in presentations to help students focus on and remember the material. She also keeps her classes fresh by incorporating YouTube videos, surveying, and role-playing.

“I consider each student as an individual,” she said. “I know firsthand about the difficulties facing international students and those with different learning styles.”

Jeong said Iowa State is an ideal place to learn and teach food service operational skills.

“This is one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve visited,” she said. “I love the environment and I’m very happy to be here.”

KEY CONTACTS:

EunHa Jeong, assistant professor, Department of Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management, College of Human Sciences, Iowa State University, 515-294-7474, ejeong@iastate.edu

Bob Bosselman, professor and chair, Department of Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management, College of Human Sciences, Iowa State University, 515-294-8550, drbob@iastate.edu

Meghan Brown, graduate assistant writer, College of Human Sciences, Iowa State University

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    EunHa “Lena” Jeong, a new assistant professor in hospitality management at Iowa State University, sees plenty of opportunity for restaurants in the United States to adopt eco-friendly practices — a move she says can generate positive consumer impressions.


  • “Restaurants can have a big impact.”

    EunHa “Lena” Jeong