The disrupted food supply chain, staffing issues, and decreasing demand caused the Mount St. Joseph administration to change the student lunch service in the cafeteria. Campus Cuisine was the perfect fit to serve the school, according to Mr. Chris Sapienza, the Mount CFO. Mr. Sapienza said, “We interviewed a couple of different places. This one seemed well-established. I think they have been in business for 26 years.” Though change may seem complicated, this transition from an expensive, struggling lunch service moved to an easier way of delivering students their meals.
For Mr. Sapienza, the decision was simple: “The reason we picked them was because of their reputation. The prices are pretty close to what you would get if you went to the store yourself.” When Mr. George Andrews announced the official change, the sentiment around the school was a disappointment, and some people expressed their willingness to bring lunch. Once given the opportunity, though, a wave of positivity flowed through campus as more people began to purchase their lunch via Campus Cuisine. According to Mr. Sapienza, the experience could not be more effortless: “Campus Cuisine sets up everything at the restaurants. They come twice a day with deliveries, once at 9:00 and once at 11:00—first delivery for C Period, Homeroom, D Period; second delivery for E Period and F Period.” I received a copy of the lunch reports from March 8, which showed a synopsis of the straightforward way the Campus Cuisine administration delivers the food. When walking me through the lunch order from that day, Mr. Sapienza spoke about their arrangement: “The first order is going to include these three [periods], so we have 72 slices of cheese, so we should have nine pizzas. If we don’t—and there’s only eight—we know ‘Hey, you got to go back and get another.”
Shane Lowman and his family own the place [John’s Italian Deli], he’s a grad, and it’s nice to give a grad and a Mount Family some business, too. Chef Paolino is a Mount family as well, and they love the business and it’s been great for them.”— Mr. Chris Sapienza
The company, created by Kathryn Kreimer, has built a solid foundation and excellent reputation. Founded in 1996, schools similar to ours use Campus Cuisine and have discovered great success in the cafeteria. “There was a school in Rhode Island—Bishop Hendrickson High School—they are Catholic, all-male, and very similar to us. I think they have about 750 students, and they are a big school, just like us,” added Mr. Sapienza. A conversation with the administration helped with the decision in choosing Campus Cuisine: “I talked to Denise [Director of Food Services at Bishop Hendricken] about the process and everything like that, so she made me feel comfortable with moving forward with Campus Cuisine.”
As a business, Campus Cuisine garners a profit using a standard technique: “So the restaurants charge Campus Cuisine basically what you would pay at the restaurant. Campus Cuisine, for the website and their administration, they add a fee on top of that—about 15%—so it sounds like a lot, but it’s not if you think about it.” Due to the 6% tax in Maryland, Campus Cuisine accumulates a 9% margin compared to the store price.
Before the service started, I heard from classmates that the food looked expensive. Mr. Sapienza admitted this as the one negative he has heard about the business: “I haven’t heard anything negative about it except, obviously, pizza is $3, so that’s cheap, the menu prices range from $3 to $14, it can be expensive if you are ordering every day.” He also acknowledged his disappointment about the lack of feedback received from students and staff: “I’ve heard from folks: ‘Oh, they love the subs,’ pizza always sells, Chick-fil-A always sells, they were really excited about the Mexican restaurant [El Patron].”
Mistakes within the ordering service happen, though, and the new vending machines act as the solution to these problems. With these, they can serve a full lunch without taking away from another order. Also, the restaurant connections to our school help with the emotional part of the lunch business. “That’s [John’s Italian Deli] another MSJ family, Shane Lowman and his family own the place, he’s a grad, and it’s nice to give a grad and a Mount Family some business, too. Chef Paolino is a Mount family as well, and they love the business, and it’s been great for them.”
Through this challenging switch between lunch services, Campus Cuisine has stepped up to take on the challenge. A high-priced, struggling operation was changed, and they moved in to provide students with the latest advancement in lunch production. With their help, Mount St. Joseph has provided students with an option-filled, friendlier lunch experience in the cafeteria.