by BRANDON UTLEY
If you have ever sat through a meal that consisted of nothing but a glass of water, you might have been to Tiffin University’s Cole Dining Hall, commonly known as “the caf.” As a picky eater I have experienced the tragic feeling of walking into the caf and not being able to find something I like on numerous occasions.
But to the caf’s defense, its food is not the worst I’ve eaten. There are even days, albeit rare, that the food tastes better than most restaurants.
“It has its good days and bad days. But honestly, more bad than good,” said Becca Smith, a sophomore at TU.
It’s crazy to think the food is not actually as bad as you think, right? Well, that’s partially true.
AVI Foodsystems has run the caf since the summer of 2007. The company services universities, cafés, and catering services across the country, with a focus on providing food of the highest quality and a variety of healthy options.
AVI also services The University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio, and its cafeteria has some of the best food I have ever eaten. Their dining hall has multiple stations, from a Subway-style sandwich bar with plenty of healthy options to a dessert station with a soft-serve ice cream machine and a gelato bar.
“They hired good chefs and never wasted anything. We would buy in bulk to save money,” said Abby Steer, who once worked in the Mount Union dining hall.
First-year Mount Union student Olivia Brunner said, “The chef wins all kinds of awards and makes the university look good, so that may be why the school gives so much money to the caf.”
Despite the quality, Mount Union’s dining hall has its own downfalls.
Brunner stated, “The food is good, but they don’t make enough and typically run out of food an hour into lunch rush. The same food is made every day, and it gets old after a week.”
TU’s dining hall may not be known to provide the same tasty food as Mount Union, but if nothing else, food is always available. Plus, students never know what they are going to get thanks to the variety of entrées served every day.
The chefs at TU are working to incorporate more nutritious, health-conscious options and provide a better quality of food – all while remaining within a limited budget.
“As the student body changes, we have to change, too,” said TU chef Todd Maxson.
As new students come through the university, different entrees become popular. Maxson said he used to incorporate much more pork in the meals than he does now, since it is cheap and fit well into the budget. Now, however, less students eat the pork entrees, so he is forced to find alternative options.
He also explained how he struggles to find healthy options that fit into the budget provided to him. To work around this issue, he plans the meals out monthly.
Some TU students have taken notice of the efforts to change, including sophomore Brett Ryan.
“Compared to last year it tastes better. It’s still not great, but definitely improving,” Ryan said.
So before you hate on the caf, remember that our chefs and cafeteria workers are doing their best under the circumstances. There are a lot of people for which to provide food and very little time and budget to work with.