AVI Fresh whips up a new tradition

The days of “The Rott” are numbered, but not as soon as expected.

Recently, ballots were released, students voted and the new name for Goshen College’s dining hall was announced: The Hub. AVI Fresh, the food provider at Goshen College, organized a celebratory meal to dedicate “The Hub”. Little did they know, this title was not original to the Goshen College Campus.

Sara Alvarez, senior, brought the conflict to the attention of AVI Fresh. As the editor of The Record, Alvarez knew “The Hub” as the location where she spends every Wednesday evening with her editing crew creating the college’s weekly newspaper.

“Since there was already a room called ‘The Hub’ on campus, I thought it would be better for AVI to come up with a unique, original name that wouldn’t confuse people,” Alvarez said.

AVI withdrew the name and dubbed the dining hall as “The Unnamable” for the special meal. However, the hope to rename the cafeteria has not been lost. AVI Fresh will try again in the near future, this time for a nickname that both memorable and unused.

Renaming the cafeteria has been in the works for quite a while, but was put into action at the beginning of this year. During a convocation in September, AVI Fresh declared its intention to change the dining hall’s nickname through a campus-wide contest.

Bob Rombach, the resident director of AVI Fresh, announced the contest while presenting a behind-the-scenes look at the growing, preparing, serving and composting of the food served daily at the Westlawn Dining Hall and the Leaf Raker. Rombach also revealed major changes in the food service for the upcoming year, including menu alterations, new produce providers, an upgraded website and increased interaction with Student Life.

The re-naming contest, however, will be the most historical of the changes.

The Westlawn Dining Hall is currently referred to by students as “The Rott,” a name that dates back to the years of the Sodexho-Marriott food service. However, this nickname, and the connotations that go along with it, do not line up with the current caliber of AVI Fresh.

“Very few people on campus remember the days of the Marriott food service,” Rombach said. “And if they do, they will remember dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and macaroni-and-cheese from a tube . . . It’s time to move past that.”

Aside from the nickname, many more changes in the dining services will be coming to campus. AVI Fresh promises more than 400 new dishes lined up this year in Westlawn Dining Hall. As for new additions in the Leaf Raker, hard-pack ice cream is being introduced. Students dining at the Leaf Raker will also find monthly specials and promotions.

Student Life is becoming increasingly involved with AVI Fresh. The two organizations have created a calendar full of highly interactive events for students including picnics, themed dinners, contests and, back by popular demand, the Snack Attack. Rombach also hopes to provide cooking classes: “For free. Because I’m just that kind of crazy.”

Classes may start during the second semester.

AVI Fresh is not only involved on Goshen College campus, but is also connected to the Goshen community. Buying locally has become a large part of the vision. Presently, the food service has local ties for its dairy products, and more recently fresh produce, but foresees even more of the foods served on campus becoming localized.

“We currently purchase 95 percent of our dairy for the dining hall from a local supplier with ties and brokering to farms in a thirty-five mile radius from Goshen,” said Rombach. “We are in talks to bring on local poultry, hopefully by next year.”

Clay Bottom Farms, a local, organic farm owned and operated by Ben and Rachel Hartman, is the latest of several local businesses partners to supply AVI Fresh with fresh produce. “Clay Bottom is a huge step,” said Rombach. “We are really looking forward to their partnership.”

In addition to buying local food, AVI Fresh is participating in on-campus sustainability programs. The Student-AVI co-operative composting program has burst into a successful project, providing compost campus-wide. Goshen College also boasts a bio-diesel project in which AVI Fresh provides used oil and byproduct to the zero-waste process.

Finally, AVI is going virtual. The AVI Fresh website has experienced alterations to make it more user-friendly and up-to-date. The real-time, self-use tool can be easily used by students to answer questions about nutrition, menus, dishes, recipes and item content. AVI dietitians are also readily available to answer questions about nutrition, preparation and dishes in chat form.

As for the future of AVI Fresh on Goshen College campus, Rombach is hopeful for progress as he continues to look outside of the box to increase the success of the food service.

“Budgets are not a limit, but a thinking tool, so I’m not big on using them as an excuse for not doing something,” he said. “I hope AVI can be a cost effective, continually growing entity and partner for Goshen. That is my [primary] goal. There are no limits to the human mind, heart or imagination.”

–By Hannah Bartel

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Written by Sara Alvarez

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