Posts Tagged With: WVU

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

Travel & Athletic Performance

Let’s Go Mountaineers! Fall 2012 marks the inagural year of West Virginia University in the Big 12 Conference. Not only does this mean a more competitive conference for WVU, it also means longer travel times by bus and by airplane.  If athletes aren’t careful about maintaining hydration status, eating healthy foods on the road, and getting adequate sleep, their athletic performance can be negatively affected. Roanna Martin and I were responsible for making 5 bulletin boards that cover important tips to remember when traveling, in order for athletes to compete at their best level. These bulletin boards will be posted in different sports teams’ strength and conditioning rooms, such as swimming, diving, and volleyball.  I’ve rearranged the information into a Powerpoint for easier viewing.  Check it out!

Categories: Current News, Sports Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


In addition to Brew ‘n Gold Cafe, Jay Capron also overseas Eliza’s, the cafe located on the 4th floor of the downtown library at WVU.  The cafe is a relatively new addition to the library, as it was opened just 6 1/2 years ago in February of 2006.   Food, drink, in the library, you say?? Why, yes!  The library’s food and drink policy states that food must be kept in the glass doors of Eliza’s, and drinks may be taken out of the cafe, but must have a lid on it. This is good news for students, especially during dead week and finals week when some students will spend upwards of 8-12 hours in the library, all day. It is pretty convenient to not have to pack up and move to another location in order to get some hydration and sustenance!  Originally, the librarians were concerned that the addition of Eliza’s to the library would cause need for an additional janitor to clean up all the mess that students would cause in the stacks area, but fortunately this hasn’t been a problem.  Students appear to be very respectful of the books in the library and have been careful not to spill crumbs or coffee over pages and in between bookcases.

Eliza’s during lunch hours

Eliza’s offers a variety of beverages for students — Starbucks coffee (!) and Coke products, as WVU has a contract with Coca-Cola. The beverages include, but are not limited to:

  • Soda
  • Energy drinks
  • Coffee
  • Hot tea
  • Iced tea
  • Fruit juices
  • Milk
  • Smoothies
  • Vitamin Water

Eliza’s also receives food, beverage, and ice deliveries two times a day in order to keep up with the student demand. There isn’t a ton of storage space at Eliza’s so deliveries have to be quite frequent. I was there for the 8:00am delivery truck, and we received milk, Panera bagels, wraps, sandwiches, and decadent-looking cinnamon rolls.  There are also salads, hummus, fresh veggies, granola bars, cheese & crackers, chips, and cookies available for purchase.

Muffins, cinnamon rolls, and Panera bagels for students to purchase

There is a push for nutrition fact labels to be placed on all the items at Brew ‘n Gold and Eliza’s. However, there are over 75 items in rotation at Brew ‘n Gold alone, so this would be quite a project to undertake. Not to mention, WVU receives its food from different suppliers each month, as food is ordered by a monthly bidding system.  That means that the turkey used to make the turkey and lettuce wrap in March may have 480 mg of sodium (from company A), but in April the turkey in the sandwich may have 550 mg of sodium (from company B) simply because we change up suppliers so often.  In addition, the wraps and sandwiches are made by different workers each time, so although consistency is encouraged, it is not guaranteed. One employee’s idea of a handful of spinach in a sandwich may be different from another employee’s handful of spinach. So because of those two factors, the nutrition facts labels should be used as more of a ballpark estimate.  Currently, there is a QR code on each item (seen below) that when scanned with a smart phone, should lead to ingredient lists and nutrition information for that item. Pretty neat use of technology!

Wraps, sandwiches, salads, hummus, fresh veggies, and more

Prices range from less than a dollar for an iced tea, to over $5.00 if you want a large drink, sandwich, and sides.  However, the average purchase per student is $3.50.

Hmmm…what to get…

During the school year Eliza’s is open on Sundays from 3pm – midnight, Mondays-Wednesdays 8am-midnight, Thursdays 8am-9pm, and Fridays 8am-2pm. Students are typically staying up ’til midnight studying on Sundays- Wednesdays, as most exams are scheduled for Mondays-Thursdays.  Also, a lot of students are relaxing or go home on the weekends (Fridays, Saturdays) so the hours of operation make sense to me.

Workers at Eliza’s (also brews Starbucks coffee)

Curious as to who this “Eliza” is?  Eliza J. Skinner was actually the WVU library director from 1897-1902, and went on to have a 33 year career at the Library of Congress.  Check out her story here.

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Brew ‘n Gold Cafe

Today I spent the morning with Jay Capron, who is manager of the Coffee Shops at WVU.  He led me on a tour of the coffee shops, and I learned about the production and management behind Brew ‘n Gold Cafe on Evansdale and Eliza’s in the downtown library.

Brew ‘n Gold Cafe opened in the fall of 2004 in the Evansdale Residence Complex next to the traditional dining hall, Cafe Evansdale.  Brew ‘n Gold is a way for students to grab food to-go and still use their meal plans, rather than sitting down in a traditional dining hall. Students at WVU used to be able to request a to-go box to fill up in the dining hall, and then take back to their dorms, bus, outside, or wherever if they wanted to eat to-go. But as you can imagine what would happen on any University, students started eating a regular meal on the trays in the dining hall, and then taking a second meal in their to-go box back up to their dorm rooms. Not only were students getting 2 meals for the price of 1 (costing the university money), but there was also a food safety issue with storing hot foods in the dorm room (as many students don’t have microwaves).  So Brew ‘n Gold was designed to fill that need for a to-go option for students on Evansdale Campus.

Brew ‘n Gold is closed during the summer, but during the school year serves 1700 students through its doors each day.  Brew ‘n Gold is also open until 9pm Monday through Friday, so if students miss the 8pm closing time for Cafe Evansdale (or 6:30pm closing time on Fridays), they can still squeeze in a late dinner at Brew ‘n Gold.

This is how Brew ‘N Gold works with the meal plans…1 entree, 1-2 sides (depending on which meal it is), and a drink.

Brew ‘N Gold Cafe: proudly brewing Starbucks coffee!

Students at Brew ‘N from

The drinks students can fill their cup up with…and don’t forget: you can ask for milk if you want, and you can get one or two half-pint cartons. Only about 12% of students ask for milk, however.

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Healthy U combats the Freshman 15

I’m sure we’re all aware of the phrase “Freshman 15,” the weight that the average college freshman puts on their first year in college. Well actually the average college freshman gains an average of 5-15 pounds their freshman year, with 5 pounds gained their first semester away. Why is that? Well, I believe a big part of the reason is the change in diet.  Students go from eating school lunches and having home-cooked dinners, to facing an all-you-can-eat buffet three times a day! WVU’s dining halls are full of tempting food that can definitely add to the waistline– free Krispy Kremes, 12 flavors of ice cream, jars of Nutella and peanut butter, french fries, chicken nuggets, hamburgers, pizza, and a dozen flavors of sugary beverages.  It’s easy to see how a student can gain 15 pounds over the course of 9 months of school just from the change in their diet…it breaks down to just eating an extra 200 calories a day!  It is easy for me to look at hundreds of options in the dining hall and quickly decipher which are healthy and which are unhealthy, but I’ve also been studying nutrition for 5 years. The average college student might have a tougher time knowing which items are going to be nutritious and which items are just empty calories.

That’s where Healthy U comes in to play.  Healthy U is a program designed by West Virginia University Dining Services and is a tool students can use to learn about nutrition and healthy choices.  It takes the guesswork out of eating healthy!  What’s also great is that it is a comprehensive program that contains the Healthy U meal plan;  nutrition education via a “Wellness Center” that describes the program, different nutrition topics, and the Healthy U diet for that day; free one-on-one nutritional counseling sessions with the staff registered dietitian; and group meetings and focus groups conducted by dietetic interns or the staff RD on a variety of nutrition topics.

How it works is that each Healthy U diet for the day is composed of 3 meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) that have been analyzed for their nutrient value.  Each meal has less than 20% of your daily value (DV) for fat, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.  Plus, each meal contains at least 20% DV for dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.  The diet/menu for each day is based on a 2000 calorie diet, so breakfast is 400-500 calories, lunch is 500-600 calories, and dinner is 600-700 calories, leaving 200-300 calories for snacks throughout the day.  Each Healthy U item is labeled with the Healthy U logo, the name of the dish, the serving size, and a nutrition facts label.  Students can simply choose the Healthy U entrée each meal, add a piece of fruit or hit up the salad bar, then fill in with appropriate beverages and snacks (skim milk or water with your meal, coffee with breakfast, and/or a 150 calorie scoop of ice cream after lunch), and they can feel confident knowing they have eaten healthy that day and met the appropriate nutrition recommendations.

The 2000 calorie diet, as recommended by the FDA, should contain:

  • total fat: less than 65 g
  • saturated fat: less than 20 g
  • cholesterol: less than 300 mg
  • sodium: less than 2,400 mg
  • fiber: greater or equal to 25 g
  • total carbohydrates: 300 g (does not contain a large amount of sugar)

I have personally had 3 Healthy U lunches this week. The first one was “Tasty Hawaiian Pockets” — a pita bread pocket filled with pineapple chunks, feta cheese, and cottage cheese. Very Hawaiian and great blend of flavors. The other Healthy U lunch was a veggie sandwich. This was excellent- the bun was toasted just right, and the cooked eggplant, mushroom, and assorted veggies were really tasty. The last Healthy U item I had was a pita bread pocket filled with shredded chicken, mozzarella cheese, raw spinach, and a mix of cooked mushrooms, red peppers, and onions. This was my favorite, but I did add some hummus from the salad bar to make the pita sandwich a little less dry.

I think its great to have such fresh, flavorful, and healthy items available on a daily basis for the students at WVU.  University dining hall food can have a bad rep, but so far the Healthy U items I’ve tried haven’t disappointed me.  The Healthy U items are also placed right after the french fries, fried fish, and other items…so I think the placement encourages those who just piled their plate with fries to look at the Healthy U item and maybe try some of it.

And don’t they sound delicious?

  • Black Bean Sweet Potato Quesadilla
  • Blueberry Pancakes
  • Cilantro Chicken Salad
  • Italian Flank Steak
  • Peach Sauced Pork
  • Mexican Tortilla Soup
  • Peanut Noodle with Shrimp
  • Spicy Southern BBQ Chicken
  • Vegetable Stuffed Turkey Breast

Mmmm! You can find a list of some of the Healthy U items here along with the corresponding nutrition information. And check out Healthy U on Facebook, too!  I really believe if someone with little to no nutrition knowledge consistently eats the Healthy U items and faithfully participates the Healthy U nutrition education programs, they will soon have the knowledge and confidence to choose healthy items on their own wherever they chose to eat. AND they will avoid the dreaded “Freshman 15”!

Categories: Current News, Education in the Community, Food Service | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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