By Brad Horton ’15
“There’s a story behind everything we do.”
I never thought about the world behind the scenes of the cafeteria. I simply walked in, bought my food, and walked out. However, there is an entire behind the scenes world to our cafeteria, and the curtain of this world was lifted through my interview with Mr. Pietravoia ,Director of Campus Dining.
The cafeteria is dedicated to get healthy food from local vendors. The Chiptole Bar, Salad Bar, and the hamburger meat is all from local vendors, and these products are hormone and antibiotic free. That often results in higher prices, especially for the Chipotle Bar. “We’re buying the better chickens. We’re making a lot of that stuff from stratch. It takes four of us (cafeteria workers) to run that (Chipotle Bar). The expense is there that we need to cover.” Mr. Pietravoia said.
The meat the cafeteria purchases is always local from Gerber Meats or Great Lakes Smoked meats, and the fruits and vegetables are purchased locally when they are in season. The cafeteria has plans to discuss business with Ohio City Farms in the spring. This push for local vendors supports local sustainability and offers a fresher product.
Our school cafeteria is largely an independent agency from the school, the diocese, and the federal government. This means that the salaries, utilities, and food items for the cafeteria are all paid for through student purchase. If the cafeteria were to use the school’s budget, tuition would rise more quickly. Being independent from federal and diocesan lunch programs allows our cafeteria a great amount of freedom when it relates to the food served and portions. For example, a federal of diocesan program would cut the size of a pizza slice to about 1/3 of its current size, and that smaller slice of pizza would count as a lunch itself. Nearly all of the burgers in the cafeteria would be banned or reduced to size of a slider. “It just didn’t seem feasible to stay on that program (the federal lunch program).”
People Water has recently been added to the cafeteria as a healthy and charitable beverage. People Water gives the equivalent of every bottle purchased in clean water to nations that need clean water. However, People Water doesn’t simply give this water in the form of a bottle; this organization actually builds wells in these developing nations. They give clean water to people of village that would otherwise hike for miles to find clean water. Our cafeteria supports People Water because the organization expands the cafeteria’s cause of local sustainability to global level. St. Ignatius is such an avid supporter of People Water that since November 15, 2014, the school sponsored a well in Nicaragua. Dog tags, like the one on the well, may soon be handed out to the St. Ignatius community in hour of our accomplishment.
There are plans in the future to possibly bring an Asian station to the cafeteria. This would be similar to an Asian food area found in a mall. “Sort of like you would see in the mall with the noodles, rice, and vegetables, choose either the beef or chicken.” The Cafeteria is also looking to get kiosk to sell food items from. This stand could be in the atrium or out on the mall when the weather is nice. There are still details to work out it terms of what food to sell, the equipment needed to sell that food, and a mobile device for the lunch program accounts. “We’re out there. We’re looking, trying to see what we can provide that has a meaning behind it, not just a product to sell…We want to be more involved with the student body. We want to do things that are good, not just slop food out there.”