Dishes clink. Ice falls into plastic cups. Conversation ebbs and flows throughout the Four Winds and Varsity dining halls. Thousands of students gather daily around tables, fueling up to study and forming friendships that could last a lifetime.
While students are away from home for a time, they’re away from grandma’s cooking, family dinners, and meaningful conversations around their parents’ kitchen table. But at Pensacola Christian College dining facilities, they don’t have to feel like they’re so far away from those comforts. In 2022, Dining Services implemented additional ways to ensure students are cared for, comfortable, and not worried about what to eat—especially those with allergies.
Expert, Caring Staff
To keep improving the student experience, Dining Services has added members to their team. An expert chef, dietician, and hostess are equipped to resolve immediate needs and connect with the student body personally.
Between tables alive with excited conversation walks Mrs. Evelyn Bumacod, the new Dining Services hostess. She pauses to inquire how students are enjoying their meal, and if there’s a concern with any item, she’ll take the unfinished plate back to the kitchen to remove the selection from the line. “When I go to the tables where the students are having a great time and laughing, I think they’re very satisfied,” Mrs. Bumacod explained. “We want to see smiling faces when they dine and stacks of [dirty] plates.” From her experience entertaining Filipino dignitaries with her father, she’s skilled in communication and resolving issues and adds a gracious, positive presence in the dining halls.
Another helpful member is a dietician from Baptist Health Care, Miss Ashley Ingle. Actively identifying trends and problems that college students face with dining facilities, she is available to offer nutrition advice and guidance to students who have food allergies or intolerances. “The staff at PCC work very hard to help provide food that students will enjoy. I really want to help any student who feels like they don’t have many food options due to their food allergies because I’m sure they have more options than they realize,” Miss Ingle explained. “The variety of food is incredible because it changes daily even though there are already eight different serving lines. Not many colleges provide buffet-style food, and PCC provides more meals than most.”
To ensure quality and add more flavorful varieties, Executive Chef Mike Hartsaw brings 35 years of industry experience to the kitchen. Chef Hartsaw studied hotel, motel, and restaurant management and earned a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. He’s introduced the student body to new favorites such as pumpkin pasta, Italian beef subs, chicken tinga, Korean BBQ pork, and many other tasty options.
“The variety of food is incredible because it changes daily even though there are already eight different serving lines.”
Alongside these new and exciting offerings, PCC instated a ServSafe training program led by Anita Southerland. Equipped with 20 years of food safety and quality assurance experience from Tyson Foods and a master’s degree in science with an emphasis on food safety, she is responsible for monitoring the quality of food that PCC students consume. With Miss Southerland leading this effort, students can rest assured that she is taking PCC to the next level of meticulous standards for food safety and quality.
These new team members add to the team with a common goal: to ensure the best student experience in the campus dining facilities.
Meeting Student Needs
Amidst a recession, limited supply chains, and the rising cost of food, students continue to find a wide range of meal options on campus to meet their unique needs. For students that prefer to study under a palm tree or in their room, Grab N Go offers convenient pre-packaged meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Varsity serves classic choices like pizza, sandwiches, chicken tenders, soup, salad, and an allergen-free option. Four Winds, the largest dining hall, supplies eight lines featuring homestyle, vegetable-based, international foods, an entire allergy-friendly line, and more. Students can visit any or all lines as many times as they wish to enjoy favorites and variety. Each day features new options and crowd-pleasers, which will change to a new rotation midsemester.
“We always want to be better,” shared Toby Baker, who is the director of Dining Services. “Without a doubt, we want to be able to serve our [students] and to be able to provide for their needs. We want to hear and respond to student feedback and suggestions. One of the things motivating us is those students who have allergies.”
Mr. Baker understands the struggle well, as two of his daughters have experienced severe allergies to some foods. He ensures that line eight at Four Winds offers meats and vegetables free of the most 8 common allergens, but also unseasoned options for those with severe allergies.
More Than Food Service
Already, students have been raving over new entrées and sides added to the menu. And many have found an open door to share their perspectives.
“I do believe that anyone can live a healthy diet with the options we do have,” said Jonathan Herring, a graduate assistant from Illinois. He is able to find balance in what the dining halls have to offer. “I find that I can get plenty of protein and carbs, as well as most major nutrients from the healthier options, such as fruits, leaner meats, and fibrous foods.”
David Maynard (Sr., GA), who is in the Work Assistance Program, enjoys eating in the dining halls. “It’s a good atmosphere for social interaction,” he said, and since he works with Chef Hartsaw, he gets an inside look at how the new changes significantly improve food choices. “Having a chef to give us ideas on cooking techniques helps make higher quality food. PCC strives to meet student needs through communication. The students can make recommendations, and they will be considered.”
“Dining Services is not merely a food service; it is serving people by means of food.”
With innovation and resourcefulness, Dining Services seeks to meet the student body’s changing needs, providing additional staff members, comfort food, and brain fuel as they prepare to influence the world for Christ. “Our mission is to promote the cause of Christ,” related hostess Evelyn Bumacod. “After chapel—which is the spiritual part—[students] come to the dining halls, eat together, encourage each other, and have fun eating our choices. Then they’re fueled [and ready to head] back to class. Students cannot function, study, or concentrate well with an empty stomach—and that’s where we come into play. Dining Services is not merely a food service; it is serving people by means of food.”