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AVI director to shake up servery

AVI director to shake up servery

By Staff

Damon Remillard called his five-year tenure as AVI’s resident director at Kenyon “the greatest time of my life.” He left this summer, however, to accept a higher position in the company’s brand development wing.

Enter Kim Novak.

A Wooster, Ohio native who worked at four other schools prior to Kenyon, Novak said she heard about the resident director vacancy and was “very excited to put my name in the hat to come here.”

One goal of Novak’s is to label the ingredients and sources of more Peirce food, including cheeses, yogurt and granola ラ both to showcase local foods and to better inform students.

First on Novak’s agenda, however, is to overhaul the drink machines. “You can’t get a cup of ice up there. It’s very frustrating. ナ So the first thing I did was call Coke when I came in here: ムWhat the heck’s going on? Why don’t these machines work?'” Novak plans on replacing Peirce’s two Coca-Cola machines with one new Coke machine as well as a Pepsi machine, a process she said would begin within the next 10 days.

Remillard noted another difficulty AVI faces. “I think [Kenyon’s] biggest obstacle, and the one that’s tough to change, is the sheer number of people into [Peirce Dining Hall].”

Novak echoed this concern and discussed rearranging some of the servery stations to create a smoother flow of traffic. “Coffee and drinks and bagels are really hot in the morning. That’s really good stuff, and we just need to kind of open that space up a little bit,” Novak said. “You know where the silverware is and the plates ラ that’s very nice real estate right there that may be being used inefficiently. So I’d like to see maybe some movement and expanding right there,” implying that some of the breakfast items might move to the center island. She said, however, that any major rearrangements probably wouldn’t take place for another year.

Another facet of Peirce’s operations that struck Novak was its distinctive emphasis on local food. Novak last worked at Mercyhurst University, in Erie, Pa., under a different food-service provider. She contrasted the way that company, Parkhurst Dining, sources local ingredients with the way AVI and Kenyon do.

“They’ll say local is 125 miles and they’ll buy it from a produce company who states that they buy it, but I’ve never seen a program where we actually go out and actually get it ourself,” Novak said. “It is great, and I think the food tastes ラ the beef is really good here. I think the chicken, we do a great job. … From farm to table: it’s really happening here.”

Although it requires more legwork, buying directly from the source ensures that AVI knows the origin and quality of the food they buy for Peirce. And the costs are often the same, or less, than going through a middleman.

“We oftentimes do better than what produce companies do,” said John Marsh, AVI’s sustainability director at Kenyon.

“People think a lot of times when I go out to an Amish market or I go to the little country markets, I can get food a lot cheaper at Kroger or a large grocery chain, but the reality is a lot of times we set the price with them, and it’s a market price,” Novak said.

Novak praised AVI’s hands-on, local-oriented approach ラ but that practice also carries with it more uncertainty than she has had to deal with before. It puts Kenyon at the mercy of Ohio’s climate and the caprices of AVI’s supply chain. “There’s a lot of growers that I helped get started, take their volume, take whatever they have, then they get to the point where they’re doing well and then they’re gone, basically ラ they blow us off,” Marsh said.

Novak also voiced her “100 percent” support for shifting Peirce hours to create a Saturday extendo, a move first proposed last year. The initiative stalled when Student Council’s Housing and Dining Committee did not receive enough responses to an all-student email survey they sent out.

“It was like 94 percent of people were in favor of it, but the issue was we got under 300 responses,” Rachel Bishop ’14, current chairperson of the committee, said. “And in talking to Damon, we had been aiming to get at least 800, at least 50 percent of the student body’s input. So it’s something we still very much want to do, but we’ll have to start over.” Bishop said she didn’t know how the committee would get the 500 more votes needed, or what they would do if they failed to reach that threshold.

“As far as hours go, I’m all for it,” Remillard said. “It’s just a matter of a majority of students wanting a change. Because remember, when you do change something, it might be for 500 students excellent, for the other 1100 students ラ maybe athletes or others ラ it could be totally a game-changer, where now they’re missing meals and such,” he added.

Still, Remillard expressed confidence in his replacement. “She brings a lot more years of experience than I had when it comes to collegiate dining,” he said. “She’s the right person for the right job.”

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