The Blue Prints
My roommate came home from class one day going on and on about a tour she went on for one of her construction management classes. When I heard her say “underground” she immediately had my full attention. At the time my senior project group was working on our first story, but I knew this needed to be our next. My roommate proceeded to explain where this underground place was on campus and reeled me in further. Many people aren’t aware that Cal Poly has an underground portion of campus which is used for various purposes, I was most intrigued by the space which is used by campus dining. Just a couple flights of stairs underneath 19 Metro and The Avenue there is a bakery, a butcher shop, a salad room, and plenty of storage.
It was fascinating to see the cohesion in which the facility operated. Each room fulfilled their part of the bigger picture and I didn’t know it was broken up like that before.
Finding Our Story
One might assume that because Cal Poly is a “learn by doing” campus it would be simple to work with the school on a story for our senior project. That one person is wrong. From the first day we started making calls and we started at what we thought was the “top of the food chain”, excuse my pun. We worked with Ellen Curtis, Director of Communication and Marketing for Cal Poly Cooperation, and she quite literally showed us the tunnel to our story. That night I posted on Reddit, the Cal Poly Class of 2017 Facebook page, and my personal Twitter to see what students wanted to know. Our senior project team put together the scraps of our idea to form our story: Peter Gonzalez put together the editorial piece, Olivia Proffit covered the broadcast segment, Cecilia Seiter created the multimedia section, and myself (Madison Agatha-Mancebo) helped coordinate the project and handled PR .Initially my group and I were under the impression that Cal Poly had secret tunnels and almost an underground city down there. Ellen explained to us what was actually down there and suggested how we should go about getting in. After meeting with Ellen and one other worker from Campus Dining, we scheduled our interviews and hoped that a story would fall in place.
I was surprised by the sheer volume of workers it takes to operate campus dining, and how smoothly they need to work together to keep everything running effectively.
Just after the lunch rush, Ellen took us behind the scenes of how every food product and meal is made on campus. She walked us through the kitchen and introduced us to the Chef Micheal Albright, took us to the bake shop, the butchery, the salad room and the storage room which resembles a miniature Costco. Our story fell into place the second we walked into the kitchen. The natural sounds were amazing and there was so much to see. We were truly shocked that this much work went into the food.
I was really interested to learn about how campus food is made. I had no idea that the food is so fresh.
After our tour we had the opportunity to sit down with Chef Albright and Megan Coats, registered dietician, to see how they plan what students are going to eat.
Focusing on cleaner food, local, sustainable, listening to the trends and students, and being able to change quickly is what we strive for.
-Chef Michael Albright
All of our perspectives truly changed after working on this story. I remember being a freshman eating on campus, or attempting to not, because I never knew where my food came from. But after seeing first hand that the fruit cups I ate are actually prepared the day of and the beef in the hamburgers is freshly ground in the butcher shop, I feel at ease. I think that all students should take advantage of the dining on campus, not just freshmen. The staff truly listens to what the students want and they make it happen.