District indecisive on food vendors for cafeteria

by Daniela Jalteco

East Los Angeles College will not be provided with a food vendor for the Student Center cafeteria.

Over several years plans have been discussed to have food vendors for all of the nine schools in the Los Angeles Community College District, but it  has been challenging to do so.

LACCD is made up of nine schools: Mission College, East Los Angeles College, Pierce College, Southwest College,Trade-Tech College, Valley College, West Los Angeles College and Harbor College.

“The district has a desire to provide a one-source food vendor for all nine schools. But it’s proved to be difficult because even if you had one food vendor, most vendors are in one area. East Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Downtown Los Angeles they don’t travel all over and it all comes down to that there are few companies that provide food services for colleges,” ELAC Administrative services Vice President Dr. Ann Tomlinson said.

“Most food vendors, when they determine that they want to service a college or a whole college district, determine how much money they need to make that work,” Tomlinson said.

Room and board is something many colleges and universities have,  and included students pay for an on campus meal plan.

When students pay that fee, the vendors are able to provide services for that college or university because the vendors will receive the money they need to keep their business going on campus.

That is not done here at ELAC, and it would take a big food vendor company to be able to service all nine colleges.

Tomlinson said she does not know if food vendors will be provided at ELAC. If they are, she does not know when.

All nine schools in the district have been provided with some type of food option for their students, staff and faculty, but none have been provided by a food vendor.

A buffet-style cafeteria was considered for the student center cafeteria, but that will not happen.

Despite the kitchen being fully built for food services, the facility would not be large enough for a food court.

One out of the nine schools mentioned the idea of having a food court at their campus, but it  was never approved.

“The concept was tried but was discontinued I think because of financial reasons,” ELAC Administrative services Associate Vice President Bill Gaspar said.

Though a food court or food vendor has not been provided at ELAC, the district still wants to help make it easier for students, faculty members and staff while they’re on campus.

“You have grab and go pre-made fresh sandwiches, salads, yogurt, fruit cups, frozen foods, burritos, burgers and we have a series of microwaves [to heat up the frozen foods] provided in the student center,” Gaspar said.

This makes it easier for everyone to just go by the cafeteria, grab a quick bite and go.

“Rather than taking their car and trying to fight traffic to get out and back in, they have options here on campus,” Gaspar said.

“We’re excited and we’re trying to develop a base where we can see what sells and what doesn’t sell and see what people want,” Tomlinson said.

Based off of what the students, staff and faculty members like, the district will add variety to the menu.

“We continue to monitor it and improve,” Gaspar said.

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