Cooking (Almost) as Good as Mom’s

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Maranatha’s Food Service

Dining hall student employeeAs Dan Pulis prepares to graduate from Maranatha, he considers what he will miss most about college—the spiritual atmosphere, the academic challenges, and, of course, the food.

“I’ve been here four years and I’m not tired of it yet,” said Pulis, a senior from Wixom, Mich. “That’s saying something.”

There is a lot to be said for Maranatha’s food service, according to students who eat on campus regularly. Jacob Palmer, a sophomore from Warner, N.H., said it was one of the factors that led him to choose Maranatha.

“I visited three other colleges before I came here, and Maranatha’s food was way better,” Palmer said. “At those other colleges, the food tasted rubbery. It was not good. Maranatha’s food tasted like real food.”

One very definite plus in Maranatha’s favor, especially in relation to many of its Christian college competitors, is the number of choices offered at each meal.

A hot and cold cereal bar, an egg and waffle bar, hash browns, and biscuits and gravy are available every morning in addition to the daily specials like pancakes, muffins, french toast, and omelettes. For lunch and dinner, students can fill their trays at the soup and salad bar, pizza bar, deli and grilled sandwich bar, waffle bar, and another bar where chips, chili and nacho ingredients are available. From there, they can move to the primary food line for the always-changing daily main menu items.

Mr. Fred Libick serves as the Food Service Director.Students enjoy a change of pace with special meals like Steak Night, Southern Night, Dairy Days (featuring some of Wisconsin’s famous dairy products), and Demonstration Cooking. On those nights, students can choose their ingredients and watch employees prepare customized dishes like stir-fry, quesadillas, and pasta.

Freshness and quality are vital concerns. So is a homemade touch. Maranatha purchases prepared pizza sauce but augments it with several special ingredients, as well as a specific blend of cheeses. Whole breast smoked turkey is used; chopped deli meats and premade salads are not. Cookie dough is prepared with one-quarter organic whole wheat flour.

Tastes can vary significantly among student populations. Food Service Director Fred Libick was transferred by Pioneer College Caterers to Maranatha from Houghton College (N.Y.), where the favorite breakfast cereal was Lucky Charms. At Maranatha, it’s granola (a much healthier choice). But, Libick said, he orders 1 ½ times as much coffee for Maranatha’s 894 students as he did for Houghton’s 1,200.

The atmosphere is as big a selling point as the food, and the atmosphere at the Dining Complex is fresh and fun.

Maranatha’s newest public building opened in 2005 (Day Hall dormitory was built in 2006). The upper level is devoted primarily to the commons eating area, but there is a roomy front lobby with comfortable furniture. The Welcome Center, located in the lobby, is the first stop for most campus visitors.

Students eating in the dining hall.One side of the eating area is enclosed by large windows that offer a scenic view of the west end of the campus, including the football and soccer fields. A central fireplace is a place for relaxing and conversation. Quiet conversation is not always a practical option during peak meal times, however, as students fill the tables to eat and discuss their day. Cell phones and books sitting on a table are an unofficial sign that those places are “reserved” for students who will soon return. Social interaction among students is as much a part of the Dining Complex experience as eating.

The “DC” is also a place for social interaction between faculty and staff members and students. Those conversations allow for more informal discussion, which opens the door for mentorship and spiritual guidance. It is not unusual to see Maranatha President Dr. Marty Marriott and his wife, Miriam (above), engaged in animated conversation with a long table full of students.

“One other positive is, the DC is open 11 hours a day,” Palmer said, “and I definitely try to use it as much of that time as I can.”

Students enjoy demonstration dinners.Libick said he doesn’t mind if students spend a significant portion of their day in his area, especially if they are happy customers.

“Most of the feedback I get is very positive,” Libick said. “I think that comes from a willingness to listen to people, be friendly, and be service-oriented.

“I know food service is a big recruitment tool for Maranatha. That’s a great thing. We can just stay out of the way and let our work speak for us.”

Food Service Fun Facts

  • There are 1,300 to 1,500 meals served each weekday.
  • More than 2,000 meals are served each day during Jump Start (freshman orientation) weekend.
  • There are 50 units serviced by Pioneer College Caterers.
  • More than 800 hours of student labor are required to keep the Dining Complex staffed each week. There are 98 student employees.
  • The Dining Complex area seats 400. The former dining hall in Old Main had 198 seats.
  • The Dining Complex building has 40,568 square feet of space, 460 windows, 247 lights, and 23,000 square feet of carpeting.
  • The ingredient most frequently ordered? Food Service Director Fred Libick said he orders 400 cases of apples each year. He also orders more than 300 cases of bananas and 3,000 pounds of ground beef.
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