On a quiet early Tuesday morning, Audrey Sanders, the only occupant of the Leaf Raker (commonly referred to as the Fraker) turned on the radio. As Carrie Underwood’s voice emerged out of the speaker, Sanders began cleaning the front counter.
“Today’s kind of slow,” Sanders said. “Hopefully we’ll get a rush.”
Sanders has been with AVI Fresh for over a year, but only started at the Fraker three weeks ago, after transferring from the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne.
She typically arrives at 7:30 a.m. to prep for the day ahead. She starts by filling the ice machine, stock-checking, starting up the soup and coffee machines and turning on the grills.
Jeremy Corson, Resident Director of AVI Fresh, can be seen floating between the two dining services: the Fraker and Westlawn Dining Hall—known to the campus community as “the Rott.” The nickname came from shortening the name of the previous food service, Sodexho Marriott.
Carolina Villalobos Palacios worked at Westlawn Dining Hall from mid-January 2017 until April 2017. She explained how students don’t realize the amount of work involved in cleaning up.
“People will be with friends playing, throwing food and ketchup, and we’re the ones cleaning it up,” Palacios said.
Due to the amount of cleaning, Palacios preferred working weekends since she’d arrive earlier and spend the majority of her shift preparing food. Along with this, her favorite part of the job was payday and getting free food.
“I’d get there at four—before we’d open at five—and I’d have 10 to 20 minutes to eat there, so it was nice that I didn’t have to bring my own food,” she said.
Corson explained how the most popular day at the dining hall is chicken tender day and taco Tuesday. Fish is another popular item on the menu. “The cod is widely loved by everyone,” he said. “Chef DD (Denise Cook) prepares it great every time.”
Another popular item at the dining hall is the cookies. Students can be seen leaving the building with napkins piled with cookies to snack on later. But Palacios has a more negative connotation with the dessert after she burnt her forearm cooking them. The scar can still be seen today.
“I was getting the tray out of the oven and it slipped and landed on my forearm,” she said whilst laughing. “That was painful.”
According to Sanders, the most popular item at the Fraker is the chicken quesadilla followed by a double cheeseburger.
She explained how the easiest item to make is the grilled cheese, but it’s also the longest. “ I think it’s because we serve it on Texas toast and so the bread takes forever to heat the cheese,” she said.
When it comes to the grab-and-go sections, Sanders explained how all of the products are made on Sundays, and then again midway through the week on either Wednesday or Thursday.
“We make food as fresh as we possibly can.” Corson said.
A new edition to the menu is the Milk Snacks, a type of ice cream bar. “Last week, I think we were giving most of them out for free just to get people like, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing,’” Sanders said.
“If anyone wants chocolate I either suggest that or these if they’re tired,” she said as she pointed to the ‘AWAKE’ bars.
Both Corson and Sanders’s favorite part of the job is getting to meet and interact with all of the students, faculty and staff.
“Everyone’s really friendly here,” Sanders said.
In terms of input and suggestions, Sanders is encouraged by her boss Corson.
“We are more open to questions than people understand. We’ll work with anyone on dietary restrictions or menu requests.” Corson said. “The comment cards are a great source of information to us.”
“He asks me all the time. I’m like, ‘I don’t know yet; just give me a few more weeks, then I’ll come up with something,’” Sanders said, laughing.