By Adrienne Gavula
Part of the 2001 renovations in Grover Center included a brand new commercial kitchen and cafe, which serve as an exciting teaching laboratory for students in the Food and Nutrition programs in the College of Health and Human Services. The Atrium Cafe offers the students real-world production and management experiences that go far beyond what they could learn in the classroom.
"In the Cafe, you have the opportunity to integrate all the aspects into practice," said Janice Bailey, senior food service management major.
Only recently has Cafe management completely been in the hands of students. Bailey was one of two students who managed the cafe during the summer. There are six students acting as managers this quarter.
Assistant Professor of Food and Nutrition Diana Manchester is the faculty member who oversees and directs student activities.
"The cafe teaches students critical thinking and problem solving skills," said Manchester. "Students are given the freedom to do things in ways that they deem most appropriate. They learn a lot from their own mistakes."
In its third year of operation, the cafe serves as a student lab, where they can experiment with different ideas. A lot of the decisions that are made are based on student feedback.
"When faculty empower their students to do a job, it energizes and brings out the best in a student," said Manchester.
One student had the idea for a "Meatless Monday," which she coordinated through the cafe. Another student serves as the special events coordinator, where she plans and executes catering and special events. There are also two lab classes that handle all production responsibilities two mornings a week at the cafe. The Atrium Cafe has even branched out to include retail-merchandising majors to help with marketing projects.
Not only does the Atrium Cafe provide an opportunity for students to link classroom work with real life, but it also provides a service for faculty and staff.
"It's nice that students are gaining experience and I have a place to eat lunch," said Linda Lockhart, director of communications, College of Health and Human Services.
The Atrium Cafe's daily menu is available online at www.hhs.ohiou.edu.
Adrienne Gavula is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.