Cafeteria uses innovative food service techniques
Serving 17,000 meals each week, the cafeteria at Oklahoma City University buzzes with conversation and activity.
Food service on campus is managed by Sodexo. The company is a longtime OCU partner, but it is serving the campus community in new ways.
The director of food services, Kelli Keegan, manages a cafeteria that looks very different from those on university campuses in past years. Keegan has been with Sodexo at OCU for eight years, six of those as executive chef before becoming director.
In the campus cafeteria today, a diner will find not only a traditional line, offering entrée options, but also a salad bar, deli station, grill for burgers, pizza, dessert table, and an "exhibition" station where the menu choice of the day is made to order.
What diners won’t find in today’s cafeteria are trays.
Patrons are invited to eat all they like from the stations, but they make individual trips. This food delivery method reduces waste; research shows people are less likely to take more food than they will eat when they do not use trays. Use of water and cleaning solutions also is reduced because there are no trays to clean.
Sodexo is intentional about promoting sustainable purchasing and operation policies, as well as offering healthy choices.
Sodexo was a leader in the "Blue Goes Green" recycling initiative on campus, launched a couple of years ago. Now the entire university works together to recycle plastic, cardboard, and glass. This year the cafeteria eliminated all Styrofoam. Biodegradable utensils now are used by Sodexo instead of plastic at Alvin’s Café and in its catering. The main dining hall is in the Tom & Brenda McDaniel University Center, and Alvin’s is on the center’s lower level.
A few months ago, OCU became the first university in the United States to offer a "raw vegan" option in campus dining. This has proven popular not only with those who embrace vegetarian regimens. Many cafeteria diners enjoy the fresh ingredients and hand-prepared food.
Sodexo at OCU also participates in a national program called "Meatless Mondays," with meatless entrées and exhibition items, as well as the vegan station. Gluten-free English muffins and bread are available for breakfast and for sandwiches.
In today’s OCU cafeteria, even a "Grab and Go" station is offered—at the front of the cafeteria, to accommodate diners in a hurry. They can choose prepared sandwiches and wraps, along with fruit, chips, and drinks.
The cafeteria continues to be responsive to its customers. News of the quality service is spreading, evidenced by an increase in requests to cater events beyond the campus. OCU President Robert Henry enjoys sharing with guests the meals prepared by Sodexo, especially when the ingredients come directly from the community garden.
Keegan and her staff appreciate the opportunity to serve the students, staff, faculty, and friends of the university.