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Cafeterias trendsetters in Big 12

March 4, 1997

Student surveys help make positive change in campus cafeterias

James Phillips/ The Baylor Lariat

The Penland cafeteria winds down into its clean-up stage during the early afternoon. Penland alone serves over 3,000 students between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

By Melissa Harlow

Lariat Reporter

It's dinner time, your stomach is growling, and--like many University students--after weighing the options, you decide to take the dining room challenge.

Before you know it, your card has been scanned and the familiar aroma of a combination of foods fills the air. Will the experience be dine-in or carry out?

Many students participated in the Baylor Dining Services survey last week, which gave students an opportunity to suggest additions or alterations to the University dining staff. Though changes are in store, feeding the student body is not as easy as it may appear.

When it comes to dining, the University leads the way in the Big 12 conference, standing out as the modern trendsetter.

'Baylor was the first to have the carry-out concept, and the first to convert all cafeterias into more of the food court idea,' said Patricia LaMont, human resource director of Baylor Dining Services, said. 'Both Memorial and Collins have been recently renovated, and there are plans to renovate Penland in the near future.'

As human resource director, LaMont is in charge of staffing all food courts and sending out information on the latest trends making their way onto campus.

Just this semester, two new meal plans were added in response to student request, LaMont said. These are the Designed Commuter, which is a declining balance of $100, good for use at the Bear, the Bill Daniel Student Center food court. The other new plan is called the Advantage, a plan that allows anywhere from 16 to 20 weekly meals.

For students choosing to dine at Memorial, 'Center Stage' is a new addition, giving students a choice of low-fat items and sauteed fresh meat and vegetable options.

'Salad is not the only low-fat option these days. Even some of our dessert selections are low-fat,' Lamont said.

From soups to salad to the more popular items on the menu such as pizza and Mexican food, just how much work and planning runs this daily show?

'The hours are not too bad, and we are allowed a free meal each shift we work,' said a Memorial cashier who asked not to be identified. 'But sometimes it gets pretty busy and the work is very time-consuming.'

The dining service employs 275 full-time workers with an additional 100 student workers. Each day, an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 meals are served, costing the University $125,000 in weekly expenses.

Though only 6,000 students have a meal plan, with the 13-meal and six-meal plan being the two most popular, University students are a hungry crowd to feed.

SYSCO food services is the sole distributor of the foods the University prepares, and daily deliveries are made from the Dallas branch to supply University needs. Items include milk from Oak farms, bread from Mrs. Baird's Bakeries and fresh juices from Minute Maid.

M.I. Russell, director of dining services, knows just how important these daily deliveries have become.

During the course of a day, students consume 240 gallons of milk, 200 loaves of bread, 410 pounds of french fries and 800 pounds of chicken, he said.

The pizza lovers consume more than 470 pizzas, and pasta fans easily put away 240 pounds of spaghetti daily.

For those students with a sweet tooth, 500 dozen cookies are easily taken care of.

The cafeterias also give out 520 pounds of bananas and 360 pounds of broccoli by the close of each day.

'There's no need to worry about leftovers here,' said LaMont.

The dining service uses the batch cooking method, meaning food is continually being prepared and made fresh daily so overproduction does not result in wasted food. LaMont said leftovers are not allowed to be served under federal health guidelines.

'I think it is great that so many types of food are offered,' David Thompson, a Dallas junior, said. 'It's kind of overwhelming at first, but pretty soon you get used to it. Variety helps.'

'I enjoy the healthy items offered,' Kelli Bricking, an Atlanta sophomore, said. 'It's good to have pasta that is not cooked in tons of oil and butter and to have chicken that is grilled, not fried.'

Baylor Dining Services wants to make the dining experience pleasant for each student.

Representatives say they are always open to suggestions.

What students consume during the course of a day

240 gallons of milk

200 loaves of bread

410 pounds of french fries

800 pounds of chicken

470 pizzas

240 pounds of spaghetti

500 dozen

cookies

520 pounds of bananas

360 pounds of broccoli

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