Cafeteria Menu

Q

I'm writing to ask some questions about menu selections in the cafeteria.
First, I realize NCAR is in the science, not restaurant, business, and I
really appreciate having a cafeteria. It's a wonderful benefit, for in
addition to providing sustenance, it helps employees get to know each other
and encourages us not to jump in hundreds of cars and drive all over town
looking for lunch. The cafeteria staff is very friendly and does an
excellent job.

However, it seems like the nutritional quality of the food has gone
downhill in the last year or so. I often find myself eating from the salad
bar or skipping the cafeteria altogether. The number of nutritious entrees
on the menu seems to have declined, while lately there are more and more
entrees that strike me as glorified junk food. A few examples: popcorn
shrimp with fries and creamy coleslaw; sloppy Joe with tater tots; country
fried chicken with mashed potatoes and cream gravy; grilled bratwurst
sandwich with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and fries; Chicago-style hot dog
with fries. Many of the seemingly healthier entrees and vegetarian choices
aren't much better when you take into account that they are often
accompanied by fries, Fritos, and the like. I realize that the cafeteria
is trying to cater to a diverse range of eaters, but much of this food
isn't very appealing to people trying to be even marginally healthy.

Was there a conscious decision to move the menu in the direction of more
fast food style-meals, or is this all just my perception? Is there a
tradition of reevaluating the menu selections every so often? Is there any
way to improve the nutritional value of the food while preserving the
reasonable prices and not burdening the cafeteria staff with unrealistic
culinary demands? Have other people been asking about this?

Answered on August 30, 2005

A

First of all, Event Services wants to thank all of our customers for their
continued support of the service we provide for all UCAR/NCAR/UOP employees.

There has been no conscious effort on the part of Event Services to move in
the direction of a more fast food-style menu. The menu items mentioned
above have been a regular part of our menu for at least 15 years, in large
part because they are very popular sellers.

We have striven to be responsive to all kinds of requests over the years;
for example, low-fat, low-carb, vegetarian, and vegan offerings. There are
one or two vegetarian and/or vegan offerings on the menu every day. We
primarily use low-fat meats for the menu, and we have moved to using olive
oil and olive oil blends for both cooking and the salad bar. If it is our
customers' perception that we have too many fried foods on the menu, we
will try to feature more fruits and vegetables as side dishes to our menu
offerings.

Finally, we are always happy to receive menu and recipe suggestions. Our
first goal has always been customer satisfaction, so we do appreciate the
feedback.

-Mari Bradley, Manager, Event Services