News and Events

SU Food Services Honored by ARC of Onondaga


By Keith Kobland

Providing for the many tastes and nutritional needs of the campus community is all in a day’s work for SU Food Services. Employees there work in a variety of functions. Among them is Bill Geis. For the past 32 years, Geis has worked as a non-food handler in Shaw Hall, cleaning pots and pans. He’s the self-proclaimed mayor of the dining facility, as he gets along with everyone there.

“Bill is a pleasure to work with because of his positive attitude,” says Manager Steve Brandt. “He is always happy to come to work”

For Dominick Valentino, it’s a similar story. For 16 years he’s worked in the dining centers, first at Haven, and now at Ernie Davis Hall. Students see him at the front door greeting them for lunch or dinner. “If they come to the dining center a lot, I get to learn their names and joke with them. One time a student wrote a nice comment about me, which made me feel really good.”

Both Geis and Valentino are part of the fabric that makes up the campus workforce. Both are well known and well liked. Between them they bring nearly a half century of experience to the hill. Their work here is one of the reasons why Arc of Onondaga is recognizing SU Food Services with this year’s Robert D. McAuliffe Community Service Award. The award recognizes a local organization that works to integrate individuals with developmental disabilities into their daily workforce and is dedicated to helping those Arc of Onondaga serves to overcome obstacles.

The award reads:

“SU Food Services employs six Arc individuals at five dining center locations on both a part and full-time basis. Their supervisory staff are extremely supportive and continually go above and beyond to ensure each worker is treated fairly, and with dignity and respect. They make sure all co-workers are cognizant of any potential risks that may arise on the job and are willing to assist if need be, and ensure that all individuals have the support they need for success when new changes are implemented. SU Food Services also employs individuals with disabilities who do not receive supports from Arc of Onondaga, making them, truly, a commendable employer to work for.”

According to Brandt, assistance is always provided with paperwork, job-bidding (Valentino successfully bid on his new job as entry checker at Ernie Davis) or computer work needed for the position. ” If we notice that there is a personal issue, we notify family members to make them aware,” according to Brandt.

Staff also go the extra mile. Geis, after 32 years on the job, is retiring this summer. Brandt brought him to human resources to sort out retirement information, even arranging for an attorney to assist in managing Geis’ retirement income.

“We also help guide them to making better choices whether it is a health, personal, or even financial issue.” says Brandt.

But in the end, it’s about people helping people who get the job done. “I like my supervisors and the people that I work with,” says Valentino. “I especially like it when my supervisors trust me with more responsibilities. It makes me feel like I’m doing a good job.”

Registered Dietitian Is Now an Allertrian Master Trainer

SU Food Services staff benefits from instruction

SU Food Services Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Educator, Ruth Sullivan has recently been certified as an Allertrain Master Trainer through Allertrain by MenuTrinfo, LLC. As an Allertrain Master Trainer, Sullivan will be able to teach and certify Food Services staff on food allergies and celiac disease.

To become a certified master trainer, Sullivan had to complete the Allertrain course, then take a full-day webinar through Allertrain. Master trainers are chosen based on their knowledge of food allergies, food intolerances, and celiac disease. They must also have food industry and teaching experience.

Allertrain’s certified teaching programs will enable Sullivan to keep SU Food Services staff up-to-date on all the latest food allergy, celiac disease, food intolerances, and food sensitivity information. To date she has taught over 200 Food Services staff members and they have become certified in identifying food allergy needs. This is another step that Food Services has taken to assure the safety of all of our customers.

Fresh Fish Fridays

In response to requests to bring more fresh fish to the table, Syracuse University Food Services has partnered with Red’s Best to offer delicious, sustainable fish.

Red’s Best was founded in 2008 by Jaren Auerbach. Auerbach is a businessman, but a fisherman at heart. Before starting the company, Auerbach held positions in every aspect of the fishing supply chain including three years as a commercial fisherman in Alaska and New England. He created Red’s Best with the goal of supporting small fishing boats by finding markets for their daily catch, their whole catch, not just the most popular species.

Jamey Lionette, Director of Sustainable Seafood Program for Red’s Best explains that they work with approximately 1,000 fisherman located from Boston to New Bedford, MA. Red’s Best employees assist in unloading the fisherman’s daily catch, preparing it for sale, and finding buyers. “This eliminates the traditional middlemen and ensures fresh fish for Red’s Best customers. The fishermen can concentrate on what they do best – fish, while Red’s Best helps them make a living out of it, and the customer is rewarded with a regular flow of fresh catch.” said Lionette.

This business model has made a positive change in the fishing industry.
• The fishermen have a guaranteed, sustaining wage.
• Under-utilized fish are caught and brought to market, maintaining diversity in the ocean that is critical for sustainability. This means that the fishing is driven by what is available, not market driven. Customers still receive fresh, delicious fish and without over fishing.
• This has created a shift in the fishing industry to a supply driven industry based on what is abundant in the water at any given time. It is an ideal way to reduce over-fishing.
• Lionette explains, “It also generates excitement in the industry, based on what is being caught and the different gear the fishermen use to catch the fish. Fish is one of the last wild resources we have for food. We can’t necessarily determine what the fishermen will catch at any given time, so this framework is ideal for both the customer and fishermen.”

Red’s Best has also created traceability software that enables all the catches to be tracked using QR (Quick Response) codes. When scanned, it gives you information about the fish, how it was caught, and the fisherman who caught it. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) uses this to track the fishermen and the fish being caught. The QR code information lets us know what fish we will be cooking. Our customers appreciate knowing this more about the fish they are being served.

Syracuse University Food Services began working with Red’s Best in spring 2016, serving it for several dinners to see how the students responded to the idea of fresh fish. Once it was determined that program would be successful, the menu committee set out to make a regular plan to serve the fish.

Here is how it works:
• Food Services menu committee decided to serve the fresh fish on Fridays alternating between lunch and dinner each week so students would have more opportunities to eat a meal with the fresh fish.
• Red’s Best and SU Food Services agreed to the variety of species that will be included in the program. The fish chosen are: Haddock, Pollack, Hake, and Cod.
• This program includes a single price per pound regardless of the variety of fish used. This fall, Food Services has been purchasing 300lbs a week.
• Eight standard recipes were created for the fresh fish recognizing that a number of traditional cooking methods could be applied to any of the specified fish. The recipes were entered into our food management system so they are readily available.
• Fish is delivered to the Food Services commissary on Wednesday and is immediately shipped to each of the five dining centers. The QR code on the boxes is scanned for marketing purposes.
• Thursday, dining center cooks do any advanced preparation; the fish is served on Friday.
• Information about the fish served is promoted on social media and is highlighted in the dining centers and food courts.
The program has been so successful that Schine Dining has begun serving the fish at lunch on Friday and Goldstein Dining serves it at dinner on Friday. Food Services is excited about this growing partnership with Red’s Best.