Three things are essential to success in college: naps, coffee and food. Although sleep is hard to find, food and coffee are abundant in the award-winning dining halls at UGA.
But, all of this food doesn’t magically appear overnight in the different facilities. Central Food Storage on Riverbend Road is responsible for ensuring that quality products end up on dining hall plates. I was fortunate enough to sit down with one man who helps guarantee that the food remains unlimited for UGA Dining Commons’ patrons.
Brooks Oliver has worked as the Food Services material manager at UGA for seven years. His job is similar to grocery shopping, except that he has to grocery shop for thousands of meal plan recipients and have enough food stocked for at least thirty days.
Every day he tries to find the best deals on items like cooking oil, beans, pancake mix, eggs and anything else you can imagine so that the price of meal plan can remain relatively affordable (in fact, the cost won’t be going up for the fourth year in a row).
Due to the small loading docks at most of the dining halls and retail locations, large trucks cannot reach these areas to unload food and other items.
This is where Central food Storage comes in. The large trucks arrive at Central where food is kept and then repackaged when it’s time to go to its final destination such as Bulldog Cafe, The Niche, Bolton or even the library’s ‘Tween the Pages.
Central Food Storage is 38,000 square feet and includes a 2,500 square foot, 3-story high refrigerator room as well as a 7,500 square foot, 3-story high freezer. Kept at a cool 33-34°F, the cooler holds items like cheese, butter, eggs, deli meats, Chick-fil-A sauces, cream cheese, juices, coffee, sugar and pickles. This room is used to thaw items such as strawberries for the Village Summit’s smoothies.
Although Oliver said the egg supply UGA receives has diminished over the last couple of years due to avian flu outbreaks, there is still a massive amount of eggs in the cooler. Two whole tons, or 100 cases, of liquid eggs rested in the cooler when we visited, waiting for their transport to Snelling for a late night omelette.
In the freezer the temperature stays as low as -8°F and houses items like chicken, pizza crust and cookies. Employees must wear insulated suits in order to work in such frigid conditions.
A 30 day supply of food is kept in Central at all times because according to Oliver, “food doesn’t stay long enough to get dust on the packaging.” The image above shows just a four month supply of frying oil for the dining halls.
Sustainability is also something that Oliver has to keep in mind when ordering different items. In 2015, a decision was made to buy certain items in pouches instead of aluminum cans. Plastic pouches offer the same freshness for the food without the worry of becoming dented or damaged which make the food unfit for use. Pouches also take up less space, provide for easier transport and in turn help reduce the carbon footprint left by UGA diners, something Food Services takes pride in.
So, next time you complain about grocery shopping or even about a dining hall being out of your favorite cereal, think of Brooks Oliver and give thanks to one of the individuals who keeps our beautiful campus functional.