By: Caty Saffarinia
Food trends are evolving and there is a rise in food allergies. This presents a challenge to universities, where students tend to be adventurous eaters. I am grateful that I was able to work with the University of Maryland’s campus dining services team as they strive to find the best methods of feeding their students while offering more variety. Campus dining services was a great introduction to how to run food services for a large university. Before starting this rotation, I did not know about the rules and regulations nor all the participants needed to run a large-scale dining service operation. This rotation taught me how to order food, receive deliveries, store food properly, prepare and cook the food, serve the food, and manage the whole operation.
The dining services managers order food every day, Monday through Friday. Before ordering, they review the menus and take inventory so that they order just enough of the foods they will need. One of my responsibilities was to check the food that was delivered by comparing the list of food ordered with the invoice of deliveries and the boxes of food. I think the most challenging part of receiving food deliveries is checking to make sure we received all that we ordered. Many employees mentioned that it becomes much easier when you become familiar with what the food packages look like. Another responsibility was to check the temperature of refrigerated and frozen foods. Once everything was checked, the deliveries were put away in appropriate storage areas, freezers and refrigerators.
To get experience serving, I worked at the sandwich station in the South Campus dining hall. A student employee showed me the location of the ingredients I needed, how much meat and cheese to use for each sandwich, and how to heat the sandwiches in the oven. I interacted with students and employees during this experience and now understand how to stay organized and delegate tasks when there is a bigger crowd. The students were all very polite to the servers and also were very patient. I appreciated this since the foodservice employees worked hard and took pride in their work.
Following my serving experience, my internship partner and I shadowed one of the campus dining service managers to observe what this role entails. Then we took a turn at managing the kitchen, making sure everything in the kitchen and dining hall were running smoothly. We ensured the milk was labeled correctly with dates of expiration and that foods were kept at the appropriate temperatures. As managers, we monitored the food being served and observed the employees and students to make sure the food was being handled correctly and the students were getting the food they wanted. Additionally, we inspected the kitchen and dining environment. For example, we looked for flyers posted around the dining hall which didn’t have prior approval from dining service managers. I learned that managers have a huge responsibility; they must organize, supervise, and delegate tasks to employees appropriately.
This rotation built on my prior education and work experience and helped get me ready for my upcoming 6-week food service rotation. By performing the duties of the foodservice manager and a dining hall food server, I saw different perspectives and gained much experience. A lot goes into making a dining hall run smoothly.