Northwestern Dining Partners with Students for Points for a Purpose

14 Apr

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As Northwestern sophomores Bryan Berger and Dean Meisel delivered their presentation at The Campus Kitchens Food & Hunger Summit, it seemed that they had been involved in the cause forever. They spoke passionately about food insecurity in Evanston and Chicago, the dining program at Northwestern, and the overwhelming problem of food waste in the United States. So it may have come as a surprise to the listeners in the crowd that Meisel and Berger’s waste reduction program, Points for a Purpose, hadn’t even existed as an idea a mere year ago.

While at Lisa’s Café at the end of spring quarter last year, Berger and Meisel ran into a friend. She mentioned that she had about $400 worth of meal points on her WildCARD to use before the end of the quarter. What’s more, she was going home the next day. Not wanting her points to go to waste, she left her WildCARD with Meisel and Berger, hoping they could put the money to better use.

Immediately, the two began doing what any other college student would do: they started buying heaps of food for themselves and others. They soon realized that these actions were helping no one. “We realized we really didn’t want a lot of this stuff,” Berger said. “We were thinking that there must be something we could do with these extra points.”

From there, the idea for Points for a Purpose was launched. Berger and Meisel met with Northwestern Dining marketing manager Jason Sophian at the start of fall quarter to propose a plan that would make use of the excess points had at the end of each quarter. After brainstorming and making revisions to the plan, Northwestern Dining was on board and the project went into action. The finalized plan allowed students to donate their points to The Campus Kitchens Project at Northwestern University (CKNU), which would subsequently utilize the points to buy food for people in need. Soon fellow students were asking how they could get involved. By the end of the fall quarter, Points for a Purpose had raised over $1,200. With the winter quarter just wrapped up, Points for a Purpose has raised close to $2,500 this school year.

Berger and Meisel hope that Points for a Purpose can draw awareness to the food insecurity present in Evanston. “It’s a commonly overlooked issue,” Berger said. “Not only do we want to give purpose to a resource we already have, but we can now spread awareness about how much food insecurity there is in the area that people don’t see on campus.”

Since starting the program, Meisel and Beger have become a chapter of Swipes for the Homeless, a group dedicated to alleviating hunger and raising awareness of food insecurity The collaboration gives Berger and Meisel a larger network of support and resources to work with. They also hope to create a stronger relationship between Northwestern and the surrounding community through their efforts.

As they wrapped up their presentation, Berger and Meisel stressed the convenience and practicality of Points for a Purpose. “It’s pretty straightforward,” Meisel said, “We’re taking a resource that’s not getting used and we’re putting it to use. Everybody wins.”

 

Article by: Maya Voelk, Sophomore, Medill School of Journalism and Integrated Marketing

Northwestern Dining’s Tony Stubbs Earns Coveted Sodexo Experience Award

14 Mar

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“The job has to get done. Lots of people stayed home, but someone had to be here, so I went.” 

Tony Stubbs is no stranger to the Sargent Dining Hall. For 11 years, Tony has worked as a cook at Sargent, watching class after class of hungry Northwestern undergraduate students file through. Tony, a native to Chicago, knows how brutal Illinois winters can become. Just like most local Midwesterners, he’s seen the lake freeze over and the snow swirl. But the Polar Vortex of 2014 caused even the most experienced Chicagoan to shut themselves inside. However, in the face of the storm, Tony powered through. He took two trains and two buses to work, totaling 2.5 hours of travel time during the freeze. He endured longer wait times than usual, as train switches broke due to record low temperatures. Tony’s dedication to his work earned him the prestigious Sodexo Experience Award.

The Sodexo Experience Award recognizes individuals and teams who have gone above and beyond in their work. How did Tony take the news? “Well, it means a lot. I was completely surprised by it, had no idea it was coming. I very much appreciate receiving something like this. I’ve been in this job a long but I hadn’t received an award like this before. This kind of thing doesn’t happen a lot. You know, I don’t know anyone else that’s gotten this.  It felt really good. It made me feel really appreciated. And yeah, like I said, it was a surprise. I didn’t see it coming or expect it at.”

 

Article by: Maya Voelk, Sophomore, Medill School of Journalism and Integrated Marketing

 

 

NUCuisine presents:

11 Feb

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“I know for a fact that when customers see Kamber is working their event, they are immediately put at ease with the understanding that everything will be taken care of,” says Grace Everett, director of catering sales for NUCuisine, “That innate ability to assure others that all will be well is priceless.”

Kamber Hadzic, who was born and raised in Bosnia before arriving in Chicago, acts as the current catering operations supervisor for NUCuisine Catering. Upon sitting down with Kamber in the kitchen of the Norris Center, it is almost immediately obvious that he possesses an unwavering work ethic. This, along with his positive outlook and passion for stellar customer service, has resulted in an extensive and valued career with NUCuisine. On the heels of his 20th anniversary with NUCuisine he took a few minutes out of his hectic schedule to chat with us about his experiences at Northwestern.

Have you always been interested in cooking and/or the food industry?

K: “I was interested when I was a very small guy, when I lived in Bosnia. I loved cooking. My mother showed me her ways. I went to a different school in Europe, though not cooking school, but when I got to America, I found cooking to be more and more interesting. When I got here I was watching chefs, they were all so good. They showed me all the tricks and everything I needed to know.”

What is your favorite dish to cook?

K: “I like cooking European food a lot. Beans, cabbage, and chicken are really popular in Europe, as well as salads. Rice and moussaka are a lot of fun too.”

After living in Bosnia, what drove you to come to the United States?

K: “I came here in 1993, I basically came as a refugee. I didn’t speak any English at all. After going to school to learn English, I came to Northwestern where I started at Sargent Hall. There I started making creations at the salad bar. After that, they asked me if I wanted to move into catering. I knew I was ready for that challenge, so a few months later I joined the catering team and haven’t looked back.

What does a typical day look like in the catering business?

K: “We’re always getting to do different things because we’re always having new events and new customers. It involved a lot of prepping and a lot of set up, both in house and at the event. There’s a lot of drop offs and pick-ups for events, lots of logistics. We have a truck and van where we transport our food. We have to make our customers happy, so everything must go right.

That sounds challenging, how do you manage to stay upbeat all the time?

K: “It’s very challenging sometimes, I like to serve people though, I like to see my customers happy. When I see their faces and I know they’re happy, I become even happier than they are. This job is something in my heart, I work with people to make them happy, that’s it. It’s important to satisfy everyone and give them more and more each day, 150%, every day.

What do you like about working at Northwestern?

K: “It’s a beautiful college and beautiful campus. My managers and my team are great and I absolutely love it here. I hope to make a retirement plan here, it’s been good.

 

Article by: Maya Voelk, Sophomore, Medill School of Journalism and Integrated Marketing

#endinghunger – Northwestern Dining + Campus Kitchens doing their part for Evanston and Chicago

30 Jan

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Since 2001, NUCuisine, the Northwestern Dining program has been partnering with the local chapter of the non-profit group, The Campus Kitchens Project, The Campus Kitchens at Northwestern University (CKNU). Campus Kitchens is an organization that partners with high schools, colleges and universities to recover food from local dining halls. The unused food is then turned into meals that help feed the less fortunate in the local community. Last year, NUCuisine contributed roughly 80% of the total food collected by CKNU, donating nearly 25,000 pounds of food to help feed people throughout the Evanston and Chicago land area.

“Knowing that we are able to serve such a substantial role in giving back to our community is absolutely incredible,” said Steve Mangan, the Sodexo resident district manager for the Northwestern Dining program. “Our next step is to increase that number by continuing to educate Northwestern students on the importance of food waste reduction.”

Jonathan Eisen, the Program Coordinator for CKNU, reiterated the positive relationship between the two organizations. “CKNU’s partnership with NUCuisine/Sodexo goes way beyond the meal. With their (NUCuisine) support we are able to provide nearly 600 healthy and nutritious meals for our individual and non-profit clients each and every week, ” said Eisen.

The partnership has also fostered some exciting new programs, including a nutrition education program for almost 75 children at after-school programs in Evanston. NUCuisine and Sodexo have also supported the National Campus Kitchens Conference, which wil be help in early April of this year on the campus of Northwestern University.

“This will be an even greater opportunity to highlight the strong working relationship between CKNU and NUCuisine/Sodexo to other campus kitchen groups throughout the country” said Eisen.

In addition, the partnership with CKNU aligns with Sodexo’s STOP Hunger Initiative, which was launched in 1996. Through volunteers, shared expertise, food donations, and financial donations, the STOP Hunger Initiative aims to change the fact that nearly one billion people suffer from hunger and malnutrition every day.

As we enter into a new year, these two organizations are exploring new and creative ways to increase the amount of food that can be donated. Also, despite the significant number of people in the community struggling to provide the proper amount of food for themselves and their families, the issue goes largely unnoticed by the community. Both groups aim to increase awareness for the problem over next year.

Article by: Maya Voelk, Sophomore, Medill School of Journalism and Integrated Marketing

One Day a Week, Cut out Meat: NUCuisine & the Meatless Monday Initiative

25 Nov

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Ask an average carnivorous Northwestern student about vegetarianism and you get a similar reaction out of most of them. “But what about bacon?” said one student, as she enjoyed the recent Tour of Pork. “I could never do it,” said another. While no one is forcing anyone to cut out meat completely, it might be beneficial to take a second look at why NUCuisine is so into Meatless Mondays and maybe even why you should give it a try.

According to the Vegetarian Society, approximately one quarter of the world’s population enjoys a mostly vegetarian diet. Surprisingly, the average vegetarian suffers no more from iron deficiency than those who eat meat. Vegetarianism also has the potential to reduce environmental issues. The United Nations Environment Programme also reported that livestock is the second or third largest contributor to global environmental issues. When you add the fact that vegetarians have the lowest rates of obesity, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure, it’s not impossible to see why many people may elect to live the meat-free life.

“Most people get more meat in their diet than they should,” said Justin Heaton, the campus dietitian for NUCuisine at Northwestern University. “When eating meat, it should be about 3-4 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards for a meal.” Heaton added that there are other ways to receive the nutritional benefits of meat, namely protein. “Tofu, lentils and quinoa are really easy ways to get lots of protein.” Heaton said. “Beans are really good too.”

Every Monday, NUCuisine offers an increased amount of vegetarian and vegan options in the dining halls across campus. However, don’t expect bland vegetables and unidentifiable fake meats to dominate the menu. Instead, NUCuisine chefs have developed vegetarian and vegan recipes that are not only flavorful, but unique as well.

“We focus on pastas, cheeses, and seasonal vegetables,” said Chris Studtmann, the executive chef and operations manager for NUCuisine. “We also do fun foods, like build your own nachos, potato bars and ethnic street foods.”

While students enjoy the fresh and flavorful meatless food, the chefs have an equally good time challenging themselves to create innovative dishes and experimenting with new ingredients.

“I have fallen in love with complex gains lately, and really enjoy making them with seasonal salads,” Studtmann said. “One of my favorite recipes we are making in the NUCuisine kitchen these days is our golden raisin quinoa salad.”

Whether you choose to go meatless on Mondays, all days, or no days, it’s good to know there is an abundance of meatless options open to you at locations across campus. For more information on Meatless Monday, a meatless diet, or any health and wellness related topics, contact our campus dietitian Justin Heaton at diet-food@northwestern.edu.

To find out more information on all things NUCuisine, like us on Facebook follow us on Twitter and Instagram or online at www.nucuisine.com.

Article by: Maya Voelk, Sophomore, Medill School of Journalism and Integrated Marketing

 

Tour of Pork: An homage to the hog

15 Nov

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From November 4th through the 8th, NUCuisine presented the Tour of Pork, a week-long event highlighting the diversity of pork dishes from around the world. The event took place at Norris and various dining halls across campus, allowing students, staff, and faculty to experience scrumptious flavors and cultures while remaining in the comfort of their favorite dining location.

The event was the result of many months of planning, by NUCuisine administration and the talented chefs across campus. After developing the idea, NUCuisine gave their chefs the opportunity to be creative in the kitchen. The chefs then began experimenting and planning unique meals, excited to give the Northwestern community an opportunity to sample a wide variety of delicious pork creations. After weeks of preparation, Tour of Pork was ready for its unveiling, beginning at Allison dining hall.

The tour kicked off with an old favorite: breakfast for dinner. The meal featured sausage and enough bacon to satisfy any breakfast lover’s fantasy. The festivities continued Tuesday at Sargent, where Chris Studtmann, executive chef covering north campus oversaw the preparation of Báhn Mì, a Vietnamese sandwich, and Pork Noodle Soup. It was Hinman’s turn on Wednesday, dishing out pork with a European flair and on Thursday students flocked to Willie’s Food Court in the Norris Center to get their hands on local pork from Indiana. Not to be outdone, the event closed on Friday with different types of tasty barbecue at Plex.

While the event served up a fun theme, it also has larger implications for NUCuisine and Northwestern. The locally sourced pork reflects NUCuisine’s substantial push to feature local and sustainable foods on a regular basis. Tour of Pork, a food focused event, also showcased the culinary talent across campus, demonstrating the level of independence, inspiration and resourcefulness that is necessary to keep students and all of Northwestern fully satisfied throughout the year. “We believe events such as Tour of Pork encompass creativity, sustainability and most importantly, great food,” said NUCuisine marketing manager Jason Sophian, “It is exactly the direction we intend on taking for our dining program as a whole.”

Although Tour of Pork has come to a close, the legacy lives on through the adorable little pigs that decorated each of its stops throughout the week. “So many of my friends have those little pig stickers on their doors,” said freshman Kenzie Carnow, of the even’ts logo. “Who knew a pig on a bike could be so cute?”

To find out more information on all things NUCuisine, like us onFacebook follow us on Twitter and Instagram or online at www.nucuisine.com.

Article by: Maya Voelk, Sophomore, Medill School of Journalism and Integrated Marketing

Aside 8 Nov

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The dining room at Elder Hall, an all-freshman residence hall, has a particularly spirited energy to it. Students getting their first taste of independence visibly settle into new friend groups, often sitting in large groups and cramming into tables meant for half as many people. As they walk through the servery, several students chat with the staff, who cheerfully engage in easy conversation. Sometimes it’s a simple, “Hi, how are you?” but other times it’s a lively and personal exchange. Javier Nieves, a native Chicagoan and cook at Elder, always seems to be happily chatting with students. We caught up with him to get an insider’s look at the role he plays in the Elder kitchen.

 

How did you get your start in the food industry?

“I come from a huge family of cooks. Really everyone in my family loves food and cooking, so I was born into that environment. I actually have two uncles that worked up here for 10 years, so when I left my job in construction they helped point me in this direction.

How was the transition from the construction industry to the food industry?

Both jobs involve working with your hands and working hard, so I fit right in. I didn’t start as the lead cook, I was doing different stuff such as the salad bar. As I moved up I learned how to deal with the bigger stuff, like the pressure of having to put out high quality food for a lot of people all at once.

What’s you favorite dish to cook?

I really like cooking everything. It is all just working with my hands, so I like it all I guess. The first thing I learned to cook though was probably pasta, like fettuccine alfredo. 

How does working at Elder compare to working at other dining halls?

I have actually worked at Elder ever since I started, but I have worked over at Hinman, Allison and Sargent before. I enjoy working in all the kitchens but I love talking with the students here at Elder. I ask them how their day is, they’re stressed, you know, so I do what I can to make them laugh or make them smile. They’re really good kids.

How do you see your future in the food industry?

I really enjoy working here, it’s a good environment. It’s been a great 9 years so far and I just hope there are many more years to come.

 

To find out more information on all things NUCuisine, like us on Facebook follow us on Twitter and Instagram or online at www.nucuisine.com.

 

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