Menu mania: CBC students pleased with cafeteria’s expanded menu
by Scott Reese Willey
Aug 30, 2009 | 1725 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Menu mania
Frank Riojas, a cook at Coastal Bend College's cafeteria, loads a freshly-baked pizza in a warmer at lunch on Wednesday. The warmer is a new edition to the cafeteria, which is now offering a four-course meal to students and college employees.
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When Claudia Chapa moved into the dorms at Coastal Bend College last year, she was forced to drive into town to eat or pick up a burger or sandwich at the student union building on campus.

But no longer.

The college replaced its popular grill with what they hope to be a much more popular full-service cafeteria complete with four-course meals, freshly-baked pizzas and salad bar.

“I like the wide variety of food, and it tastes good,” said Claudia, who returned to campus on Sunday to start her sophomore year. “There’s so much more to choose from this year compared to last year.”

The expanded cafeteria now offers hot meals three times a day every day of the week except weekend nights.

The four-course meals include a meat dish, starch — such a rice or baked potato — vegetable and desert.

Students who don’t have time for a meal can pick up a slice of freshly-baked pizza or sandwich.

The expanded food choices came about partly because students living in the dorm often complained about the lack of variety offered through the grill, college officials explained.

“Students and some parents requested extended cafeteria hours, improved service, better meals and more meal options,” said Velma Elizalde, dean of student services at CBC.

“We also found out that some of the students were cooking in their dorm rooms. It was a health and safety issue.”

Cooking in the dorm rooms also lead to a roach and ant problem.

Also, Elizalde added, parents also complained that their children who stayed in the dorms were skipping meals altogether in order to spend their limited money on other things.

“Many students were not budgeting well and as a result they were not eating well,” Elizalde said.

The college implemented a mandatory meal plan this fall to help ensure students living in the dorms eat better and don’t cook in their rooms. For $1,346 per semester, dorm room students are assured of 19 meals per week, or three meals every day of the week except Friday and Saturday nights.

“Many students (living in the dorms) didn’t have transportation to town and cafeteria days and times of operation did not make it possible for them to have all their meals on campus,” Elizalde noted.

Vanguard Resources, which provides meals at other colleges and universities, is overseeing the expansion project, mandatory meal plan and expanded menu.

“We’re hearing good things from the students and the staff,” said Tom Barclay, who is supervising the expansion project for Vanguard. “We’re still expanding, both the menu and the facilities. We’re trying to hire a chef right now and soon we hope to put in our new pizza oven so that the aroma of baking pizzas greets students, faculty and staff when they enter the cafeteria.”

Elizalde said the college board of trustees allocated thousands of dollars toward the expansion project.

“We used to have just a grill but now we have a real full-service cafeteria,” she said on the day students moved back into the dorms.

Deandra Brown of Victoria, who is living in the dorms while studying dental hygiene at Coastal Bend College, said the meal plan helps her financially.

“It’s saved me a lot of money because last year when I got tired of eating burgers and fries in the cafeteria I would go out and eat at a restaurant and that’s much more expensive,” she said.

Besides, she added, “I think the food tastes great. I’ve tried the spaghetti and meatballs, the breakfast tacos of sausage and egg and some of the other menu items and they’re good.”

Also popular with students, the new cappuccino machine, provided free of cost by Kraft Co.

The company also provided the college with a free tea urn, coffee maker and juice urns, which right now hold lemonade.

Barclay says he plans to offer slushies in one of the juice machines in the near future.

“We think the students are going to enjoy coming to the cafeteria more because of the service, the expanded menu,” he said.
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