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On-campus markets to stock international foods

By Bonnie Meibers, Senior Staff Writer

With a large - and still growing - Chinese international student population, Miami Dining is adding international food to its on-campus markets.

Miami's Oxford campus is home to 1,670 international students, and 1,283 of those students are from China, according to Miami University's website.

This idea began six or seven years ago, with the influx of Chinese students at Miami, said Tina Rotundo, executive manager of Dorsey Market, Dividends, Garden Commons and regional campus dining.

The international food was originally meant to be sold in the Shriver Center food court, but when that closed, these efforts fizzled out.

Now, Jungle Jim's will soon be delivering 30 to 50 international items to markets across campus, like Dorsey and MacCracken.

Jim Bonaminio, founder of Jungle Jim's, is a Miami alumnus. Jungle Jim's is an international market that carries over 150,000 products from all over the world. There are two locations, Fairfield and Eastgate.

Miami already purchases food items from Jungle Jim's. One example is white rice, because it is less expensive, said Jon Brubacher, director of Procurement and Food Purchasing.

"Many international students already go to Jungle Jim's on the weekends to buy familiar foods," Brubacher said.

Bringing the foods to them on campus just seems to make sense to Brubacher and Miami's dining staff.

Rotundo got the idea from student employees working across various food markets on campus. The employees gave her suggestions for types of food to bring into the markets on campus. Sijie 'Nickey' Pu, a student manager at Garden Commons, gave Rotundo some feedback.

One item in particular that international students requested was Shiseido Tsubaki Camillia Extra Moist shampoo, which Pu said is her favorite.

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"They are excited about things they miss from home," Rotundo said.

Rotundo said she firmly believes in making Miami a home away from home for all students by making dining services as accommodating as possible.

"The mom in you comes out," she said. "You want to try and take care of everybody."

Jim Beckett, international purchaser at Jungle Jim's, hopes to get the first wave of international products into the markets within the next two weeks.

"I am so excited to have some Chinese food on campus," Pu said. "It can reduce my homesickness a lot."

Most of the food will be quick snack food like cookies, candy, beverages and noodle bowls. Other items Pu is looking forward to seeing are Pocky cookies, which are biscuit sticks coated in flavored chocolate, and Aloe drinks.

"Food is always a comforting thing," Beckett said. "It's nice to see a brand you recognize."

While the original focus group is international students from Asia, Beckett is already taking orders for Indian and Spanish foods.

Rotundo is also working on bringing these international snacks to the Middletown campus. There is also talk of bringing the international snack-food to the Hamilton campus, Brubacher said.

With an international student population of approximately 140 at the Middletown campus, Rotundo thinks this is something that will make the students here feel more at home.

"I can't wait to get everything into the store," Rotundo said.