Health Code Violations at the Tabler Cafe

I wrote an article for the  Statesman about health code violations on campus at the Tabler Cafe.  When I talked to students I was amazed at how many were “grossed out”, but would eat there again.  Let me explain what the violations were.  There was an inadequate sneeze guard to protect food. When the sanitarian arrived fruit used to make crepes were exposed to anyone who had a cold, flu or respiratory illness.

There was no bayonet thermometer to measure the temperature of soups and thicker meats. Keeping food at a proper temperature is essential to avoid bacteria. Without a thermometer, the food manager can’t tell if  food should be discarded due to low temperatures, a breeding ground for bacteria.

And lastly there were no food logs.  The logs are used to record temperatures of food transported from one place to another.  The food from the Cafe is transported from Roth.

When told about the violations, one student seemed to give up on avoiding food borne illnesses on campus. If I don’t get sick eating here I’ll get sick eating somewhere else on campus, the sophomore said.

Photo:www.msnbc.msn.com/ id/20450512/

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New Starbucks Card Program Out Just in Time for the Holidays

After having successful runs in two recent programs, the Starbucks Gold and Starbucks reward, the coffee giant has decided to combine both programs into one easily useable Starbucks card. The change comes after complaints from customers, as well as a push for customer and brand loyalty to the company that is suffering at the hands of lower priced competitors including Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds. The card will begin activation on Dec. 26, 2009, the day after Christmas.

For Starbucks, brand loyalty is everything. After a less than stellar showing with the VIA instant coffee brand, the company is hoping to court both holiday sales and loyal customers with this new program. The program will make both the gold and reward cards obsolete and replace them with a new card. This card will come with three levels: Welcome, green and gold.

At the welcome level cardholders will receive a free birthday drink. At the green level cardholders can gain hours of free Wi-Fi access, coffee beans and syrups. The gold level features all of the benefits of the other levels, plus a free drink every 15 purchases and a card with the holder’s name on the front. To become a gold card member, only 35 visits per year are required, which translates to less than three per month.

It is Starbucks’ hope that the popularity of its older programs will be reproduced with this new card. I expect to see a line of caffeineaholics in Starbucks the day after Christmas.

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Starbucks VIA debuts at Stony Brook

This fall marks the beginning of a new era for Starbucks as they’ve introduced a new line of instant coffee to the market, VIA. The Starbucks on campus carries VIA and last month they celebrated the product launch with a “taste challenge.”

The challenge tested whether customers can tell the difference between Starbucks brewed coffee and Starbucks VIA, a “ready brew” product, $10 for 12 servings.

The results were mixed on campus but as a whole but nationally the market embraced the new product. It is still unclear whether those who participated in the taste challenge had the same overall positive reaction that test cities experienced.

Starbucks is clearly banking on this new product, hoping that it will help the company move into the instant coffee enterprise. They’ve made huge investments in advertising, which includes television ads, the taste test and visible window panels throughout stores.

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Stony Brook Welcomes a New Campus Dining Provider

Coming back to campus this semester, it was evident that there was something different about the food. Returning students found new concepts, including a salad bar, in the Union, vegan options in Kelly Quad and updates to the SAC cafeteria, too.

The changes are due to the new campus food provider, Lackmann Culinary Services. Lackmann is the replacement for Chartwells, the company that had provided campus food for years. Lackmann’s goals are to provide cheap, delicious and healthy food to the campus body.

After an extensive search, including investigating the options at a large buffet-style dining hall, Lackmann was chosen due to its local ties and affordability for students according to the campus dining bid committee.

The new campus dining provider has also spearheaded the “china first” program in H-quad, a green initiative where students use real utensils while they eat. The company plans to extend this idea to other parts of the campus and to continue using biodegradable containers and utensils.

Though it is too early to tell what students think of the food, it is clear that changes involving campus dining were needed on campus due to student complaints. According to the campus dining bid committee, students had many concerns about Chartwells including prices, hospitality and the quality of the food.

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The Student Activity Center during lunch time

Eating at the SAC

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Photo:www.bonelesschickenrecipe.com/ Chicken-Images/

There are a few places I try to avoid on Stony Brook’s campus.  One is the dining area in Student Activities Center (SAC) because it’s the most congested area on the west campus. The lines are long and the area seems way to small for the amount of students it serves. But sometimes when you’re with a friend your open to things that are totally out of your routine.

I ordered the pizza.  It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was good.  While eating I glanced at my friend’s food.  It looked delicious.  She must have caught me because she offered some.  I couldn’t refuse.  The peas and carrots were so good.  I didn’t find much chicken, but what I did find was great. Next time I’m getting the chicken pot pie. What do you think about the SAC?

Lower Prices And Losing Weight

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In my first blog, More Tuna Please, I wrote about eating on Stony Brook University’s campus, particularly the Union Deli. I thought the prices for food purchased locally on Long Island were too steep.  I’m happy to report there have been some changes. Fresh cold cut sandwiches are half the price they used to be.  The price fell from $8.33 to just over $4, but there also seems to be a new vendor.

Also, my efforts to lose weight have stalled.  My goal to lose 10-15  pounds is the same, but now I am looking for a new application for my I-phone.  The free I-phone application Lose It didn’t work for me.  I could not find the foods that I ate in the search menu to add up the calories, which defeats the whole purpose of  convenenience.  I dont mind counting calories as long as it’s not time consuming. The Lose It application was time consuming.

Photo:http://www.flickr.com/photos/richard-cottonfield/3554104795/http://www.flickr.com/photos/richard-cottonfield/3554104795/

My Addiction

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I’ve tried to leave you, but the days seem longer without  you.  Your aroma awakens my senses even  before I’ve tasted you. It’s been 2 days since I’ve held  you and it seems like an eternity.  In the winter, you warm my hands.  In the summer your cold.

French Vanilla coffee  at Seawolves Marketplace is my favorite cup of coffee on Stony Brook’s campus.  Before my morning coffee I’m sluggish, easily irritated and discombobulated.  Afterwards, I’m friendlier and energetic. I have tried to do without it because it seems I’ve developed a dependence for it.  I feel I have to have coffee in order to be at my best. This is Homecoming week at Stony Brook University, an annual event that brings together alumni with current students.  To help celebrate the event, the school is offering discounted cups of coffee all over campus. Continue reading