When Chris Spellman makes out his weekly grocery list, he thinks in quantities that could probably feed a small town.
Spellman is the director of Dining Services at Lander University, which, with a population of over 3,600 students, faculty and staff, could be considered a small town. He said his employees serve as many as 9,000 meals a week or an average of 300,000 meals a year in Lander’s dining hall which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.
There are another 93,000 transactions at the Bearcat Den, Java City and Provisions on Demand, three smaller food locations on campus.
Spellman said, in the just-completed school year, Lander’s dining staff served 660,000 scrambled and hard-boiled eggs, for a total of 55,000 dozens; 220,000 slices of bacon; 22,000 hot dogs and corn dogs; and 6 tons of cheese, in bulk and sliced.
The dining hall also features a salad bar at which diners helped themselves to more than 7 tons of lettuce. The grill served 2.8 tons of chicken tenders, another two tons of stir-fried chicken and over 20 tons of French fries.
Lander diners consumed 205,000 cookies, along with many hundreds of cakes, pies and other sweets.
And to wash down all that food, the dining hall dispensed oceans of soft drinks, coffee, milk, water and juices.
In describing the dining experience at Lander, Spellman said, “We continuously create new and enticing menus that offer traditional American cuisine, international fare, healthy items focused on good nutrition, as well as vegetarian meal options.”
Dining Services has a staff of 85 employees. Lander is one of more than 600 colleges and universities that have contracts with Aramark to manage their food service operations.
The steady dining hall traffic keeps not only the cooks but the bottle washers busy, too. Spellman said the kitchen staff washed 474,000 plates, more than 414,000 cups, and washed and sorted 711,000 pieces of silverware. But, there were no trays to wash because, two years ago, Lander’s Dining Services eliminated the use of trays as part of an initiative to reduce waste and become more energy efficient. Diners can still help themselves to as much food as they want but they have to carry it to their tables on plates.
According to Spellman, not having to wash trays saves more than 102,000 gallons of water a year, which is equal to the amount of water it takes to fill one-sixth of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.