Earlier this year, foodservice consultant Paul Fairbrook got a chance to attend the grand opening of the Bulgaria Student Center at the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG), in Blagoevgrad. The foodservice design took its cues from Berkshire Dining Commons at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst. The following is Fairbrook’s account of the new facility.
“A ‘free-flow’ traffic system allows diners to select a variety of food and beverage items without having to stand in a cafeteria line. Many of the items, such as omelets, salads, pizza and grilled items, are prepared to order or in a just-in-time manner. [Architect Dimtcho] Tilev worked with Robert Livermore of Waltham, Mass., who designed the highly acclaimed Berkshire Commons at the University of Massachusetts. The new food court is, in all probability, the most modern facility of its type in Eastern Europe.
As students climb the stairs into the food court, the first station they see is a long serpentine counter that includes a sandwiches-made-to-order counter and a 25-foot-long refrigerated salad bar with a variety of salad greens, toppings, the famous native Shopska salad, and fresh and canned fruits. Most of the items on the salad bar come from local vendors.
Opposite the salad bar is a semicircular counter from which are served several hot soups and a variety of made-to-order hot food items, which are cooked or grilled in front of the students. A special area is reserved for vegetarian entrées.
Next comes the pizza and burrito area, with a pizza oven directly behind the counter. Three small island counters in the middle of the court display cold cereals, chips, desserts and fresh fruit. Toward the cashier stands is a large sliding door reach-in refrigerator for bottled beverages and a variety of grab-and-go wrapped salads and sandwiches.
The AUBG students were so thrilled with their new dining areas that they recently named their foodservice coordinator, Mark Waterhouse, their ‘coolest non-student 2013.’
An Alaskan senator has introduced a bill into the U.S. Senate that would make it easier for foodservice staffs in hospitals, schools and senior care facilities to serve traditional Alaskan foods. The Traditional Foods Nourishment Act of 2013, drafted by Sen. Mark Begich, would cut through some of the red tape presented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture when it comes to serving some Alaska Native foods.
The bill, which was introduced in late July, has been referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs.
“There are a variety of reasons why this bill makes sense,” says Heather Handyside, Begich’s press secretary. “In addition to aiding the local economy, there are health benefits and cultural benefits to promote the use of native foods.”
The bill would provide for “the donation to and serving of traditional food through a foodservice program at a public facility or a nonprofit facility” provided that several processing steps are met to protect against health risks.
Alaska already has in place both fish-to-school and farm-to-school programs, through which such items as salmon, halibut, moose, crab and bison can be found on the menu. But the legislation would allow for the donation of wild game such as caribou, reindeer and beaver.
However, according to an article in the Alaska Dispatch, the bill would not permit the use of some of the most requested foods from native Alaska, such as muktuk (whale skin with blubber) and fermented seal oil, nor game such as bear, fox and walrus because of fears of trichinosis.