Highline has difficulty providing more food options for students

By Nayyab Rai - Staff Reporter



Food is important to every- body, which is why Highline emphasizes providing students with quality meals throughout the year, says college officials.

Highline contracts Lancer Catering company and has been working with it for the past few years.

"Our last food service was Chartwell. We had them for about seven years, until they pulled out of their contract," said Conference and Events Manager Rachel Collins.

"They decided that Highline simply did not provide enough revenue and pulled out," Collins said.

"Highline only offers food for breakfast and lunch, five times a week. We do not need to have food served so much, so many companies believe that Highline cannot give them the profits that they want," she said.

After Chartwell pulled out, bids to find a new food service company were solicited, Collins said.

"The way the process works is; first, we send out a bid to the different catering companies; then, the food companies respond back with a proposal and a committee is formed to make the final decision on who will be the new food service provider," Collins said.

"I am the coordinator for this, so its my job to send out the bid, and I also inform the companies on who is awarded the contract," Dianna Thiele, the purchasing manager said.

"We want to make sure that the students are able to get the best that we can provide," Thiele said.

"I work with the representatives to make sure that they are

following all of the state rules and regulations," she said.

"During the last search, three companies sent us a proposal," she said.

When deciding on the food service, there are many different factors included, Collins said.

"Do they have the financial support needed to provide enough food? Can they provide staff?," Collins said.

"When we signed with Lancer Catering, we went with a three-year contract. That contract ended last year, and we renewed it for another three years," she said. "Contracts can also go up to 10 years."

Lancer Catering has almost complete control on what it sells, Collins said.

"The college does not really have a say in what happens with the food. The only thing that we really do is approve the pricing," Collins said. "That has to be mutually agreed upon."

"All of their money comes from the sales that they make. They do have to pay us rental fees and give us a part of the profits," Collins said. "That is why Lancer needs to make a certain amount of money yearly."

"That is also why we have an exclusive contract with them," she said. "Any event that needs to be catered, has to be catered by Lancer. That also includes events from outside groups."

Lancer has been an "amazing service" so far, but there is always room for improvement, Collins said.

"I feel that there are a few problems and kinks, that we need to work out, but I believe that I have a really nice relationship with the employees there. I am the main point of contact with Lancer, so I think that my feedback is taken seriously with them," Collins said.

Many students enjoy what Lancer has to offer.

"I really like the food here, its good and close by, so I do not have to travel far to get some food," said Highline student Mary Fruia.

"I am on campus a lot, so getting to eat close by, is a huge relief off my shoulders," a student who wished to stay anonymous said.

Some students have a few issues with the menu.

"I am a vegetarian and have been so for the last five years. I am on campus so much, that it can be difficult since there is not a lot of vegetarian options," Highline student Michael Vern said.

He said neither the Bistro or the Union Grill are particularly vegetarian friendly.

"I really like a good burger, but the black bean burger is made on the same grill as the meat burgers, and that just bothers the heck out of me," Vern said.

Some students also cannot en- joy the food due to religious restraints. For Muslims, they could only eat halal, and for Jews, they can only eat kosher. For example, whatever animal they eat, needs to be slaughtered in a specific way.

"I am Muslim, so for me, eating halal food is essential. I cannot eat the American meat, and so, I do not eat the food here," a Highline student said.

"I know that many Muslim students do eat here, but for me, I would get so sick if I ate any- thing that they sell here," the student said.

The employees of Lancer Catering also work hard to bring food to the Highline community.

"I have been working at High- line for the past 11 years," said grill cook Clarence Curtis.

"I first worked at the Bistro as the baker`s assistant, and then switched over to the Grill," he said.

"I enjoy working at the Grill a lot, its also the only place open during Summer Quarter, so its nice to be able to make that extra cash. I typically work 40-hour weeks," Curtis said.

The Grill usually has a big rush around lunchtime, Curtis said.

"I think that the Grill gets most of the business. We have burgers and people tend to enjoy that," Curtis said. "The good thing is, the other employees help out whenever things get busy."
Lancer Catering`s former di- rector of Food Services, Patrick Enstrom, said that Highline has

been a great business venture. "[Highline] is a great opportunity to serve both the students and staff healthy choices," Enstrom said. "I have been a part of Lancer Catering for about eight months now, and I am re- ally glad I did so, since I really

enjoy working with students." There are a few factors in determining what to sell, he said. "Pricing plays a large role in the decision-making process and of course we will only serve quality products. So the juxtaposition be- tween the two can be tricky. Additionally, we like to offer new things so that our customers can enjoy a variety of options," he said.

"I worked with amazing people, both from Lancer and here at Highline College," Enstrom said.

Lancer Catering also makes sure to work with Highline to make sure that complaints are taken seriously, Enstrom said.

"There have been complaints about the black bean burger being made on the same grill, so I gave my Aldo's cook (Clarence) a small frying pan and spatula that will only be used for our vegetarian options moving forward," Enstrom said.

Food service is important to us, and Lancer looks forward to working with Highline for the next few years, Enstrom said.

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