Making a federal case

My take-backs from federal office cafeteria tours.

I always enjoy getting out of the office to visit foodservice operations. I’m not afforded that luxury very often these days; my travel usually finds me attending conferences and seminars, either as a speaker or an observer.

But earlier this week I had the chance to take the train down to Washington, D.C., to visit with my good friend—and FSD advisory board member—Sam Ayoub, and to tour a few of the many federal office cafeterias he oversees.

Sam, who I met several years ago when he was a vice president with Guest Services Inc., has a title befitting a government bureaucrat. He is (take a deep breath) the branch chief for the Retail, Concessions and Specialty Services Branch, GSA Public Buildings Services, National Capitol Region, U.S. General Services Administration. That’s a lengthy way of saying is GSA’s representative for oversight of 32 cafeterias, 60 snack bars and coffee shops, and more than 500 vending programs found in federal office buildings in and around our nation’s capital.

Sam’s job is to dictate to the contractors that manage these foodservice facilities the type of services they will provide. But calling Sam a bureaucrat is unfair, if you believe government officials to be politicians and paper pushers without a real connection to the world as we see it. Sam is a foodie, and his love for his job and his concern for his customers is very evident when you talk with him and see him interact with vendors and clients—those people whose job it is to liaise with the food management firms at individual locations.

Last Tuesday, Sam and his boss, Steve Richard, led me on a quick tour of three facilities—State Department, Department of the Interior, and the Patent and Trademark Office. The purpose of the tour was threefold: to see the results of recent renovations at State and DOI, to witness the efforts being put forth by GSA in the areas of sustainability and health and wellness, and to counter some of the recent negative press by the Washington Post about the quality of food and service in federal government cafeterias.

I came away impressed on all three counts. At DOI and State, in particular, I could see the wellness and environmental programs in action, and at DOI I got a sneak peek at what Sam and his team at GSA hope will be the future of federal office foodservice programs. At the PTO’s Roundhouse Cafe, I had a wonderful lunch of Persian chicken over basmati rice with cucumber chutney and a yogurt dip.

The October issue of FSD will feature the new cafeteria program at DOI, along with GSA’s philosophy on wellness and sustainability.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association has made public the 2018 recipients of its annual Silver Plate awards.

The nine winners—each of whom was given the top prize in their respective foodservice segment—include four well-known names in noncommercial:

Healthcare: Jim McGrody , director of culinary and nutrition services at UNC Rex Healthcare in Raleigh, N.C. C&U: Dennis Pierce , executive director of dining services at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn. B&I: Michiel Bakker , director of global food services for Google K-12: Ken Yant,...
Industry News & Opinion

Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary in Brunswick, Maine, is hosting a mentorship program that brings in local community members to have lunch with second-graders twice a week, The Forecaster reports.

The program is aimed to foster conversation between the students and area adults, and staff say they are happy to have the extra adult supervision during lunch and recess.

Officials would like to find more volunteers to expand the program to the third, fourth and fifth grades in the future.

Read the full story via .

Ideas and Innovation
buying small

Here’s a stunner for noncommercial operators who work with one big supplier: Smith College buys food from more than 50 different suppliers. And only three of those suppliers sell Smith more than 3% of its food. “We know boutique,” says Andy Cox, director of Dining Services at the Northampton, Mass., school. “There are ways to make it work.”

Adding to Smith’s challenges: Dining Services has 12 kitchens and no central receiving, and works to ensure that 20% of its food is fair, local, humane and/or ecologically sound.

Teamwork between a food buyer and financial systems...

Industry News & Opinion

Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., is celebrating National Nutrition Month by offering free weekly samples of plant-based items , as well as hosting produce-centric events around campus, the Indiana Daily Student reports.

Every Wednesday this month, students will be able to sample such dishes as vegetable vindaloo, lemon-herb quinoa salad, and pistachio and apricot couscous. Some of the items featured have been offered previously on campus, while others are new recipes.

The university has also partnered with a culinary training organization to launch two plant-based...

FSD Resources