Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Food Services for 2005 Northern California Florida College Camp

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this yet. I'm the chef for a children's Bible camp for one week each summer in the Santa Cruz, California area. We operate the camp for children who come from churches in Northern California. As the name implies, the camp is sponsored by Florida College, located in Temple Terrace, Florida.

This year camp will meet during the last week of July for six nights and seven days. We run the camp from a Sunday to Saturday. Many staff (with camper children in tow) arrive on Saturday to participate in training. We have a busy week from the moment the Sysco Foodservice truck arrives in Saturday to the minute we ring the last mop on the next Saturday.

Over the coming two months, I'll post information about the food service program at the Northern California FC camp. This information should be helpful to anyone who's tasked with feeding around 150 children and adult staff members in a camp setting.

During our conversations, I will talk about:
  • The menu--The menu is the foundation of any food service operation. With it, the chef outlines each meal and plans production for his facility. The menu requires careful attention when working with volunteer cooks.
  • Children's likes and dislikes--You have to remember that you're feeding children from varied backgrounds. Not all children have a chef-father who makes them eat strange foods.
  • Purchasing--Purchasing can be challenging because you only operate for one week. I' was able to secure the services of Sysco Foodservices of San Francisco in the first year.
  • Production planning--Staff, menu and planning go together.
  • Using volunteer staff--Few camps can hire professional cooks. I've been able to draw on a great group of dedicated volunteers. This includes one husband-wife team. We had a mother-grown daughter team until last year (the daughter has since moved out of the area--the mother is returning for year-four!).
  • Food safety and training--Long-distance training is a must. I depend on the National Restaurant Associations ServSafe material for correspondence training. We also conduct on-site training on Saturday.
  • Working with program staff--Remember, you're here to support the overall program. It doesn't work the other way. We have two very good co-directors to work with.
  • Coordinating with the host facility--Few organization are blessed with their own facilities. We rent Daybreak Camp in Felton, California for the week.
  • Lessons learned from prior years (2002, 2003, 2004)--I wrote "lessons learned" following my experiences in the US Navy Seabees after the 2002 and 2003 camps. I'll share this information as it becomes appropriate to our discussion.
I'd love to hear from others who've experience the joy of feeding children in a summer camp setting.

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