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Saving Food, Feeding People

More than 3,350 pounds of food — about the weight of a Ford Mustang — was donated to families in the Grinnell community during the 2013­–14 school year.

This intensive effort was led by Dylan Bondy ’16, who started the Grinnell College chapter of the Food Recovery Network (FRN) in May 2013. FRN is a national organization that works with college students to fight food waste and hunger.

Bondy, who serves as the Grinnell chapter president of FRN, works with the College dining hall to recover leftovers to feed local people in need.

How Food Recovery and Distribution Works

College dining hall staff members pack leftover food from the kitchen and the line — where food is served to students — into large, single-use aluminum trays.

After each meal, a student volunteer picks up the food, weighs it — to record in FRN’s national database — and puts it into the student organization’s refrigerator in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center.

The next day, three students drive that food a few blocks to the First Presbyterian Church. With the help of church volunteers, especially Dave and Linda Cranston, the food is distributed to people who need it. This happens five days a week during the school year.

Another important partner is Mid-Iowa Community Action, which verifies that people are eligible for food assistance and provides vouchers for their weekly food pickups.

This smoothly operating partnership and distribution network didn’t exist a year ago. Thanks to the help of many people in the community and on campus, including the Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice, the project is going strong.

Bondy says, “The work we’re doing in the community is substantive. We are out there in the field, meeting people in the community, putting food in their hands. FRN volunteers (or FRNds) get to form meaningful bonds with the people of Grinnell and help support their livelihood.”

The program is expanding for 2014–15. The Hy-Vee grocery store in Grinnell is a confirmed new partner, Bondy says. Hy-Vee will donate food that is past its sell-by date, but is still good.

How the Idea Evolved

 Students talking to diners while serving foodWhen Bondy was a first-year student, he saw students loading trays with way more food than they could eat. The uneaten food — full slices of pizza, burgers, chicken breasts, whole salads — was composted or thrown out.

Bondy wanted to do something about the waste. He was talking to his mom about it one day. She told him about an interview she’d seen with a guy named Ben Simon from the Food Recovery Network, who spoke about of his efforts to start a national student movement for food recovery and waste reduction. She urged Bondy to get Grinnell involved.

“As soon as I found out about Food Recovery Network, I knew I had to bring it to our campus,” Bondy says. He worked with Mary Zheng ’15 to get the project going.

About 30 students volunteer their time and effort each semester. Additionally, more than 200 students subscribe to the College’s FRN email list.

Educating Students About Food Waste

One of the group’s early and ongoing efforts is to educate students about food waste. Chapter volunteers weigh and evaluate food from student trays, which can’t be recovered for use.

This activity is paired with a “Take what you’ll eat” campaign. Bondy even took a documentary film short course and made a film about tray waste at Grinnell.

Bondy says, “For a while, I definitely spent more time on FRN than academics because I could see the tangible impact, that students were making really valuable changes and connections in the greater community. As a sociology major, I often get sick of just seeing social change in the textbook — it’s all about the real world application, making a concrete change.”

Food Waste & Hunger Summit

Five members of Grinnell’s FRN chapter attended the Food Waste & Hunger Summit in April 2014, the first of its kind. Students from all over the U.S. discussed strategies for reducing hunger and food waste in their communities. “We got to see a new national movement that’s making a substantive difference around the U.S.,” Bondy says.

Because Grinnell College has the first successful rural food recovery model in the Food Recovery Network, Bondy led a session entitled “Innovative Solutions to Rural Hunger,” in which he shared the chapter’s story and provided a sort of road map to rural food recovery.

“Through student food recovery efforts,” Bondy says, “our generation is going to make the change this nation needs, and we’re going to see hunger in the U.S. be greatly alleviated.”

Mary Zheng ’15, from from Gainesville, Va., is majoring in anthropology and Chinese.

Dylan Bondy ’16 is a sociology major from San Rafael, Calif. and Delary Beach, Fla.

The Mistry Cookbook

Eric Mistry ’14 loves to experiment in the kitchen, even when the kitchen is actually Grinnell's dining hall.

Taking full advantage of the ingredients available, from the spice rack and salad bar to the daily entrees, he knows how to keep things fresh. Here he explains what led him to create The Mistry Cookbook:

Eric Mistry '14 in chef's outfit

Over the course of my four years at Grinnell, I ate a ton of meals at the Dining Hall. With that many meals, even with the spectacular selection and quality offered, it can be easy to get bored or fall into a rut of having the same thing every day. Getting bored with my food was not on my menu.

Every meal, I tried to make a new dish. Some experiments went well, others less so. The successful dishes made it into my bi-weekly Scarlet & Black column, “Better Know a Dining Hall,” about different dishes and other creations to make in the Dining Hall. My senior year, I decided to turn my various recipes and techniques for Dining Hall cooking into something less ephemeral than a newspaper column. I applied for and obtained funding from the Student Publications and Radio Committee to create and publish my very own cookbook.

Throughout the year, I collected, retested, and honed the recipes for publishing. My goal was to give people a starting point with broadly adaptable base recipes. I wanted to share my experiences and experiments to help everyone eat healthfully and deliciously. The Dining Hall is a superb palette for creating culinary works of art. All it takes is a little creativity and a love of tasty food.

Sample Recipes from The Mistry Cookbook

Tasty Taco Salad

Rather than a prelude or side to a meal, this salad can easily hold its own as a main course. Days that tacos or burritos are served may give you salsa and guacamole to add to the salad.

Ingredients:

  • Lettuce of your choice
  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Bell peppers
  • Onions
  • Bacon bits (optional)
  • Chicken or other meat (optional)
  • Croutons (optional)
  • Spicy smoky ranch dressing (Ranch + BBQ/A1 + Hot Sauce)

Load up a plate with all the ingredients as you would like. Mix up the spicy smoky ranch dressing in a condiment cup and drizzle over the salad. Dig in!

Hummus Yummus & Chickpea Chow

I was inspired to create this dish by the restaurant chain Hummus Bros. in London. It can be enjoyed with bread, a pita, or vegetables such as carrots and celery.

Ingredients:

  • Chickpeas
  • Hummus
  • Olive oil
  • Oregano
  • Black pepper
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg

Start by grabbing two bowls. Fill one halfway with hummus and one halfway with chickpeas from the vegan station. Add about a spoonful of olive oil to each bowl and stir well.

Next, add enough of the following spices to coat the top of the hummus and chickpeas: oregano, black pepper, paprika, and cumin. Add a very small pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg to the dishes to expand the flavors of the other spices. Mix in the spices thoroughly.

Microwave each bowl for about 45 seconds and stir one more time. Toss the chickpeas on the hummus and enjoy!

Mistry shares more recipes at The Mistry Cookbook.

Grinnell Chef Wins Regional Competition

Scott Turley, executive chef, will take his award-winning lobster dish to a national collegiate dining services competition this summer.

Turley topped eight other Midwestern chefs last month at the National Association of College and University Food Services’ Culinary Challenge at Michigan State University.

He will compete against five other chefs in July at the national competition in Baltimore, Md. Winners will receive cash prizes and a medal for outstanding food preparation and presentation.

“We’re very proud of chef Scott’s accomplishments in this area,” says Dick Williams, director of dining services. “His talents represent the extraordinary culinary team at Grinnell.”

Turley says he’s training to win the national competition.

“I practiced this dish making lobster strudel with lobster sauce, butter poached lobster tail, sautéed spinach with fennel, honey glazed carrots, and tournedos of beef with Jack Daniels sauce,” Turley says. “The strudel proved to be a challenge because you cannot use an oven, so I created one with the induction units and skillets by turning the induction unit upside down.” 

Williams called the technique the “Turley flip,” says Turley.

“This seemed to create quite the buzz as cooking this way is not normal for the competition, but my time working with the Boy Scouts paid off as it works really well,” Turley says.

The Daily Meal, a food and drink website, ranked Grinnell 15 out of 60 on its list of best colleges for food last year. Grinnell has 11 chefs who are certified by the American Culinary Federation, a professional organization for chefs and cooks. 

Thanksgiving at Grinnell

Every fall a few hundred students remain on campus over Thanksgiving, celebrating the American holiday with their Grinnell family.

Many international students join their host families for Thanksgiving dinner. Some, like members of the Student Organization of Latinas/os, cook their own feasts.

Most of the rest will enjoy a traditional American feast prepared by the dining staff before they head home to spend the evening with their own families. A wide-variety of choices means no one goes away hungry.

Traditional delights will include:

  • Local roasted turkey (halal turkey available)
  • Sage dressing
  • Homemade turkey gravy
  • Mashed redskin potatoes
  • Roasted root vegetables with pearl onions
  • Corn pudding with mushrooms and ham
  • Cider-glazed sweet potatoes
  • Cranberry relish
  • Pomegranate & persimmon salad
  • Golden glow salad
  • Winter greens with pomegranate
  • Quinoa and wild rice squash with nuts
  • Parker house rolls
  • Sweet potato pie
  • Pumpkin pie with whipped topping

This year’s holiday dinner includes a nod to “Thanksgivukkah” — the once in a lifetime overlap of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah — with Manischewitz-marinated turkey and mashed potatoes with horseradish.

Executive Chef Scott Turley reminds anyone cooking their own turkey to start thawing it early. Plan ahead and thaw it in the refrigerator for three days, not in the kitchen sink.

Have a great Thanksgiving wherever you may be!

International Students Share Tastes from Home

Every year, Grinnell students from near and far share some of their favorite foods from home in a decades-old tradition: the International Student Organization’s Food Bazaar.

This year, more than 100 chefs prepared 52 appetizers, entrees, beverages, and desserts, with recipes representing 34 countries and 6 continents.

Three recipes earned the annual Chef’s Choice Awards, presented by Grinnell College Executive Chef Scott Turley:

  • First place: Krit Petrachaianan ’17 and Serena Hocharoen ’17, Tom Yam Soup
  • Second place: Thu Htet ’14 and Zaw Bo ’17, Shan Noodles
  • Third place: Tim Hoffman ’14 and Pavlo Nikolaidis ’14, Peking Duck

Turley features winning recipes in the Marketplace dining hall in the spring.

A sample of other dishes includes:

  • Banana & Red Bean Breakfast Dish, Guatemala
  • Dovi Stew, Zimbabwe
  • Gelado Rico, Brazil
  • Tajine Sebnekh, Tunisia
  • Mousse au Speculoos, Belgium
  • Šunkofleky, Czech Republic
  • Keftedakia Tiganita, Greece
  • Papa a la Huancaina, Peru
  • Chips Mayai w/ Kachumbari, Tanzania
  • Khao Man Kai, Thailand

Philippines United Student Organization and Typhoon Haiyan

This year, in a tribute to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines United Student Organization (PUSO) sang their national anthem and invited food bazaar guests to contribute to typhoon relief.

Although singing the national anthem was “nerve-wracking,” says Veronica Vergara ’15, it “helped us get in touch with our Filipino heritage.

“The song speaks of the strength of our nation and that our people will do anything for our love of our country. We know the truth within the anthem, because we are doing everything in our power to help the country back in its feet even if we are far away."

They prepared four dishes that reminded them of their cultural pride. “Desserts like Bibingka and Leche Flan were cooked by our mothers or our lolas (grandmothers) for special occasions such as Christmas or family gatherings,” Vergara explains. “Yema and pastillas are a kind of milk candy we ate growing up, either bought in the streets, brought home as pasalubong, or made at home as a special treat."

About the Food Bazaar

The food bazaar is organized by the International Student Organization (ISO) in collaboration with the Office of International Student Affairs. Special thanks to the Student Government Association, Student Activities Fund, Dining Services, Facilities Management, and Fareway Grocery.

“It is an absolute pleasure to work with the ISO leadership team on this event. Kudos to Iulia Iordache ’15 and the 2013-14 cabinet for another successful food bazaar,” says Karen Edwards, associate dean and director of international student affairs.

2013-14 ISO Cabinet

The ISO Cabinet, the power behind the scenes, organized the chefs, purchased and distributed the food, and kept the whole bazaar running smoothly.

Dining hours during Thanksgiving Break

Marketplace Special Hours for Thanksgiving Weekend 

Wednesday, November 27 
Dinner 5:00 - 7:00 pm 

Thursday, November 28 
Continental Breakfast 9:00 - 10:00 am 
Traditional Thanksgiving Buffet 12:00 - 1:00 pm 
Box Dinners To Go will be distributed for evening meal (to allow staff partial holiday with their families) 

Friday, November 29 - Saturday, November 30 
Continental Breakfast 9:00 - 10:00 am 
Lunch 12:00 - 1:00 pm 
Dinner 6:00 - 7:00 pm 

Sunday, December 1 
Lunch 11:30 am - 1:30 pm 
Dinner 5:00 - 7:00 pm 

Spencer Grill Closing for Thanksgiving Break Wednesday, November 27 at 4 pm. 
Reopening Sunday, December 1 at 1 pm. 

Out Takes Closing for Thanksgiving Break Tuesday, November 26 at 10 pm. 
Reopening Monday, December 2 regular hours.