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Aladdin – CHC’s new dining provider

The+All-you-can-eat+salad+bar+is+a+fresh+favorite.%0APhoto+Credit%3A++Kiara+Baxter
The All-you-can-eat salad bar is a fresh favorite.
Photo Credit:  Kiara Baxter

The All-you-can-eat salad bar is a fresh favorite. Photo Credit: Kiara Baxter

The All-you-can-eat salad bar is a fresh favorite. Photo Credit: Kiara Baxter

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Since July 1, 2016, the CHC community may have noticed some significant changes in our new dining services: Most notably our new provider, Aladdin.

Many agree there are some great things happening with the new lunch program. Students and staff openly comment on better quality food, more locally grown fruits and vegetables, no more pre-made food that is just heated in a microwave, and a more advanced salad bar. These changes are in large part due to Aladdin, who was chosen through a bidding process, complete with taste testing to find the prime program for our school.

This program was adapted from a fellow collegiate school in Richmond. CHC Director of Property Management, Mrs. Sarah Williams, shares her thoughts: “This lunch program model was introduced to the school thirteen years ago and being able to eat lunch together each day has become a big part of who we are and really speaks to our core value of community,” Williams continues, “The key to a great dining services partnership is being able to create a program that is customized to the individual school and one that supports the overall goals and mission of the school.”

With nearly 900 students on our campus and more than 100 faculty and staff members, this is no easy task. In upper school alone, there are more than 400 people who pass through the lunch line each day.

To minimize waste, to promote healthy food choices, and to keep costs down, several changes were made when Aladdin took over from Sage Dining Services. Yes, the portion sizes did indeed change, but only because of the amount of food trashed, not the amount of food consumed. Many students complained at first; however, double servings are given at a single time, if requested. Seconds (even thirds) are provided as well.

The biggest changes include the school’s decision to clear the drink station, leaving only flavored water, tea, juice, and milk, and to make ice cream a Friday-only treat. Both changes have been met with clear disappointment from the students. Though upper school students recognize why the change was made, most do not like it.

As a result of the emphasis on healthy options, students have made a big improvement as shown through the dining service tracking system. According to Dr. Garran, “So far we have gone through more than 100 pounds of fresh fruit since the beginning of school.”

One great thing that we should be looking forward to in the future is the new hot food bar being added to the cafeteria. Mrs. Sarah Williams shares, “There has been some feedback from our community regarding the new layout of the cafeteria. What you see was created with the understanding that another station was coming.” Hope for a better school lunch set up is in the near future.

With a wide variety of menu options offered throughout a given month, there are still individuals in our upper school whose dietary restrictions are not met. A senior, Ashley Wendt, Class of 2017, shared her insiight on being a vegan in our community, “Since I am vegan, I have a lot of trouble finding food to eat everyday, and this is because there are very limited options with this new lunch service. Last year, there were not that many options either, but there were a lot more than now. I have talked to other people with dietary restrictions, and they have the same issues. The only consistent food options are the soy butter and jelly sandwiches (and I cannot even tell if the bread is vegan) and salad (which is not very filling when you just get the vegetables). In the past two weeks, there have been only two vegan vegetable options and one soup. I just wish that there was plain pasta or rice not made with chicken broth or a vegetable soup that was not made with chicken broth.”

Aladdin Food Service was chosen for our school for good reasons: it was going to help our community make better food choices and was a better service than SAGE. Already many people believe they are doing a good job. If you have questions, suggestions, or special needs, please see Mark Cattie in Cafe Dolphin. If we all follow Dr. Garran’s advice, we will all be a lot happier if we “give them a chance. Don’t make a judgment on 1 or 2 weeks. People will end up being a lot happier if we wait and see how the year goes.”

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