Posts Tagged With: foodservice

Smoothies for Breakfast

In my last rotation with WVU dining services, I was able to choose a new food item, recipe, or something of the like to implement and write a report on. I decided to provide a smoothie bar during breakfast hours for those students in Evansdale Cafe.  The project included planning, food costing, advertising, implementing, writing a literature review, and writing a 16-page summary of the quality improvement project.  While this was several weeks ago, I thought I’d pass along some of what I came up with, because it was a fun project to be a part of.  The staff at WVU were extremely helpful in every aspect of the project– letting me take creative reigns, printing off customer counts, invoice orders, ordering the food, helping with set-up, tear-down, and even working next to me during the busy 2 hours, running the second blender. I am very grateful that the staff at WVU are so willing to help – they definitely care about their dietetic interns!


            Fruits are an important part of a healthy diet as they contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are beneficial for heart health, digestive health, and more.  However, less than 23% of Americans are consuming the recommended 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.1 In fact, a study by Steven E. Shive found that students at a community college have a typical fruit intake of 1.7 servings a day.2 By providing students at WVU with a smoothie bar during breakfast hours, it creates the opportunity for students to increase their fruit intake that day by 1-2 servings.  A smoothie bar was planned and was implemented on Friday, September 28th from 7:30-9:00am and served approximately 80 students.  Students were able to design their own smoothie or choose one of the three smoothies shown on signs with nutrition facts attached.  Peaches, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries could be mixed with vanilla soy milk, 2% milk, orange juice, and yogurt.  Each smoothie took less than a minute to make and the smoothie operation worked well with two employees running the blenders and taking orders.  There were approximately 5.5 labor hours involved and the average food-cost of a smoothie made was $1.165.  Feedback from the students was positive, as many students lined up early, gave positive comments, asked if the smoothie bar was permanent, and were happy to have something different, unique, and nutritious on a weekday morning.  If there is enough staff available to run the smoothie bar, I would recommend keeping it in rotation several times a month.

Signage for Smoothies <– Check out a PDF of the sign I made for the smoothie bar, which explains how to order and shows all the ingredients available.

Smoothie Nutrition Facts <– I analyzed the smoothies for their nutrients and made signs that displayed the nutrition facts for 3 different smoothies — Triple Berry (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry), Peach-Raspberry, and Strawberry-Banana.

Working the smoothie bar on Friday morning. Set-up took about an hour for one employee (me)– thankfully all the food and supplies were organized on carts in the dry storage, walk-in cooler, and walk-in freezer the day before, so set-up in the morning went “smoothly”…haha

Making one of the approximately 80 smoothies we made that day. The first people to get a smoothie at 7:20am were a group of WVU student-athletes who had just finished with an early morning practice.


This project also involved taking into account food safety rules and regulations – dairy products were stored in tubs of ice to keep below 45 degrees F; employees wore hair restraints, aprons, gloves, and properly washed their hands; serving utensils were used; and the smoothie bar was located within 25 feet of a hand-washing station.

The most popular smoothie was the strawberry-banana smoothie. We used about 10 pounds of strawberries that morning and about 35 bananas!



  1. Brown, B.J., & Hermann, J.R. (2005). Cooking classes increase fruit and vegetable intake and food safety behaviors in youth and adults. Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior, 37(2), 104-105. Retrieved from
  2. Shive, S. E., & Morris, M. N. (2006). Evaluation of the energize your life! social marketing campaign pilot study to increase fruit intake among community college students. Journal of American College Health, 55(1), 33-39.  Retrieved from
Categories: Food Service | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Customer Count: Factors & Figures

In any food service organization, correctly projecting customer count each day is important for several reasons. You need to be able to know how much food to order 2 weeks ahead of time, how much of a recipe to make, how many workers you’ll need to schedule for that day, and what the hours of operation are. All of these variables depend on how many customers you expect each day!

At WVU, students have their student ID scanned before they go into Cafe Evansdale (the dining hall located in Towers). This means that days and years of data are stored so that managers can accurately estimate how many students to expect, based on previous years’ data from that same week.  This way the managers can order the correct amount of food, schedule the correct amount of employees, and from time to time adjust the hours of operation as needed.

There are several factors that affect customer count at any dining establishment. The factors that you’ll see in university dining halls include:

Weather! Weather, weather, weather. There are 1800 students that live in Towers. Imagine if there’s a huge snowstorm and everyone is snowed in. You can pretty much guarantee that except for a brave few, most students will choose to stay indoors and eat at Cafe Evansdale instead of traipsing outside in the frozen tundra for some Chik-fil-A.  If it’s a beautiful, sunny day, however, students are more likely to be outside and eat at restaurants, other dining halls, or use the Brew ‘n Gold grab-and-go option and eat outside.  While you can’t always plan for weather, it is still a factor that affects customer count.

Snow day!

Holidays University holidays, such as the recent labor day, have an effect on customer count. When students have labor day off, many students will choose to go home for that 3-day weekend and thus customer counts will be down.  Holidays also include Fall Break (some Universities have a fall break), Election Day, Thanksgiving & Christmas break (some students leave early), Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Good Friday, and Spring Break.

Have a Merry WVU Christmas

Weekends Students go home during the weekends. Not all, but enough to make a difference in customer counts. In addition, many students use the weekend as an opportunity to sleep in (not eat breakfast), go out (dinner & a movie), or take a weekend mini-vacation up to Pittsburgh or D.C.  For these reasons, WVU, like many other academic institutions, offers a brunch and dinner on Saturdays & Sundays rather than a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Game Days There were 1541 students who ate brunch on Saturday, August 25th….1031 students on Saturday, September 1st, and 1357 students who ate brunch on Saturday, September 8th.  Why was September 1st a lower customer count than the other Saturdays? Because there was a 12:00pm WVU-Marshall football game on September 1st!  Many students are out tailgating rather than sitting in the dining hall eating brunch, so if there are game days (or game nights), customer count will be down.

Let’s Go Mountaineers!

Time of Year WVU sees a significant decrease in the amount of meals served towards the end of the year in the spring semester than in the beginning of the fall semester.  Why’s that?  In the spring, students are anxious for summer and for school to get out. They’re going home more often, sleeping in longer (because they realized they don’t necessarily have to go to class to get an A), and going out more (“school’s almost done!”), and are outside enjoying the nice weather.  Customer count drops in the spring because of all these factors.

Here are some interesting Cafe Evansdale customer counts for you, to put it all in perspective:

  • First week of school: 18,708 meals served
  • Second week of school: 16,647 meals served
  • Third week of school: 15,407 meals served
  • Second week of April: 11,838 meals served
  • Third week of April: 11,648 meals served
  • Fourth week of April: 11,877 meals served

As you can tell, in the beginning of the year, the dining hall is serving about 16,920 meals a week, while that number drops to 11,787 at the end of the spring semester. A lot of that figure is due to the fact that students are probably sleeping in– as the dining hall served an average of 543 breakfasts a day in August/September, but an average of 260 breakfasts in April/May. That’s less than half of what we were seeing in the beginning of the year!

  • Average weekday dinner attendance in August/September: 1088
  • Average weekend (Fri & Sat) dinner attendance in August/September: 682
  • Average weekday dinner attendance in April/May: 773
  • Average weekend (Fri & Sat) dinner attendance in April/May: 440

Did you know? Trying to avoid crowds? Trying to join the crowd? Here are some interesting findings:

  • Least attended breakfast: Friday
  • Least attended lunch: Friday
  • Least attended dinner: Saturday
  • Most attended breakfast: Wednesday
  • Most attended lunch: Thursday
  • Most attended dinner: Tuesday
Categories: Food Service | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Close-Up Look at a Catering Event

Today I spent my rotation with catering both in the prep area under Hatfield’s and at the actual catering event held in the Mountainlair Ballroom in the Mountainlair on Downtown Campus.  The event, coincidently, is one that I was invited to – the Welcome Lunch for graduate students, held by the Office of Graduate Education & Life. The event was from 12:00 until 1:30pm and was open and free for all WVU graduate students, faculty, and staff.

The catering and production staff were told to prepare for about 500 people (even though the population of WVU graduate students exceeds 6,000).  There were orders for fruit trays, veggie platters, veggie dip (all of which I helped prepare), sesame chicken, Spanakopita, Swedish meatballs, tea sandwiches (egg salad, tuna salad, and cheese spread), top round & dinner rolls, a variety of desserts, and fruit punch, water, and coffee for beverages.I have experience with catering before, as in undergrad I worked a formal banquet for about 5 hours one night for some extra money. I dressed up in all black, learned a quick crash course in serving & catering etiquette, and was able to experience a behind-the-scenes look at how a catering event works from beginning to end.

The graduate luncheon went smoothly and the only food items left at 1:30 were dinner rolls, top rounds, and a tray or two of flying WV cookies.   For a catering event to occur, many different people have to work together and communicate effictively: the catering sales manager, catering manager, assistant director of catering, executive chef, chef, production team, and catering staff.

4 serving lines

Top round on the carving board

Sesame Chicken


Tea Sandwiches (tuna, egg, or cheese)

Vegetable High Rollers

Fruit & Vegetable Trays (with Ranch/Sour Cream Dip for Vegetables)

Cookies, mini cheesecakes, mini pecan pies, macaroons

Flying WV Cookies

Fruit Punch, Ice Water, & Coffee

Hot storage in the back room

Storing extras to re-stock the serving lines as needed

Over 400 students, faculty, and staff attended the luncheon

Enjoying the event

Categories: Food Service | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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