Union South, University of Wisconsin, Madison

By creating distinctive concepts, the UW Union South has become a campus destination.

A wood-stone hearth oven is the centerpiece of this sandwich and salad concept, which also is where Union South dining focuses its local purchasing efforts. There is a 60-room hotel in the union, and Harvest Grains often lures hotel guests downstairs in the morning with its hearth-finished breakfast sandwiches such as the Titletown, which includes egg, sausage, Wisconsin cheddar and green peppers. Other sandwiches include the The Pretzel (oven-roasted turkey, smoked ham, swiss cheese, caramelized onions and stone-ground mustard on a pretzel roll) and the Farmers’ Market (grilled portobello mushroom, organic spring greens, tomatoes, red onions and hummus on a cheese roll), as well as salads and sides.

Harvest Grains takes advantage of as many local products as the department can source, says Korz, be it local produce, baked goods or even tortilla chips.

“The university has a tremendous relationship with agriculture, so it is important to make those connections” Korz says. “It’s also a challenge because you have to react to the seasonality of the menus, which is something we currently do through specials. I don’t think we have fully realized our potential for working in as much local and organic in that location as we can. [Harvest Grains] is one [unit] that I think is ripe for more development.” 

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Ideas and Innovation
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For the last three years, we’ve hosted an event called Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner. We sponsor the local chapter of Future Farmers of America to raise the chickens, and we have to arrange all the transporting from farms to the distributor, which keeps the birds in a freezer until we’re ready. We build hype by having students vote on the proprietary spice blend they would like on the chicken. It helps the nutrition team get involved in the educational process and showcase local food purchasing.

Ideas and Innovation
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We are no longer short staffed, ever. On a given day, missing two team members from a team of 50 would leave us 96% staffed. The actual choice of wording places a positive emphasis on those that did come to serve our guests and patients. We no longer use the phrase “short staffed”; this is a game-changer when we are challenging ourselves as culture facilitators or leaders.

Ideas and Innovation
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To make safe food as accessible as possible for our guests with allergies, we are creating an allergen-friendly kitchen this summer. Students and community members will be able to use our mobile app to place orders for allergen-friendly food and pick them up at the central kitchen. The kitchen will also produce grab-and-go options that will be distributed across campus.

FSD Resources