Food choices available at CCC

Photo by Jonathan Villagomez

Story by Laura Canida

If you are new to Clackamas Community College, you may not be aware of the changes that occurred over the summer to the food choices on campus. Options have been reduced in the Cougar Café, vending machines were added and food trucks were introduced.

The changes have been met with some resistance, as fresh food in the cafeteria is limited and food trucks are not always available.

“We have received feedback from students and staff expressing disappointment about some of these changes,” said CCC President Tim Cook in a Nov. 12 email to all Clackamas staff. “We acknowledge these solutions are not ideal, but they are dynamic and they give us time to assess what is working and what isn’t, take in feedback and adjust to the best of our ability.”

Every year, the college opens up bids for food service companies to provide services on campus, this past year, there were no bids. Jewel, the food service CCC employed last year and the college came to an agreement that would work for both parties, for now.

For the college, it kept the cafeteria open for students and allowed more food options on campus.

For Jewel, formerly known as Trio, the changes the college proposed would mean that they would have to scale back their services and foods that they offered in order for it to make sense as a business.

Some of the changes that affected their decision was that the college was no longer offering a subsidy, and Jewel would no longer be the exclusive catering company on campus.

Jewel has been serving food on the Oregon City campus since 2015 and their most recent contract runs from July 2019 to June 2020. They are a privately-owned food service and catering company based out of Oregon City. Owners Shelly Sarber and Lisa Quinn said it’s important to them to serve the students and provide the best options for food they can.

“We really just want everyone to feel welcome and enjoy coming into the café regardless what their food choices are,” Sarber said.

The kitchen, though furnished with older equipment, was spotless and very well-organized. Since they have scaled down, some of the kitchen is no longer in full use.

Based on their own data, they are currently providing the foods that were their previous best sellers, with one exception: chicken strips. They have been waiting for months for a new fryer to be delivered and installed. They hope it will arrive during the holiday break.

Students can currently purchase food from the grill including breakfast burritos, pizza, burgers with the choice of beef, chicken, turkey and hemp seed patties, fries and tots. The chicken breasts are gluten free and the hemp seed burgers are vegan and gluten free. Jewel also offers beverage choices including smoothies, tea and coffee.

Jewel adheres to ADA food allergen guidelines and provides standard options for gluten-free and allergen-free meals. For students seeking these options, they do offer buns, tortillas and tater tots that are gluten free.

Currently the café is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m Monday through Friday. While fresh food is not available, screens were recently installed to allow the students access to a microwave and vending machines until 6 p.m.

Microwaves are available in the cafeteria, Randall Hall and the vending areas in upper Barlow and the Community Center on the OC campus.

Canteen is the company that stocks all the food and beverages in the vending machines on campus. They offer a service called “Avenue C” at the Wilsonville campus, which is a self check-out system that relies on the honor system for payment with cash or card.

Canteen chooses which foods are put in the vending machines at CCC, but so far, the choices have been limited.

AG Specialty Foods Inc. is a Milwaukie company that provides

Canteen with the fresh food in vending machines on campus. AG Specialty Foods has been in this business since 1980.

“We have always taken great pride and care in the presentation and quality of our products,” said owner Sonia Andrus.“I’m very particular about how the product looks and tastes.”

During a tour of the facility, Andrus said her company is currently responding to requests to expand vegan and vegetarian options, gluten friendly options, using cage-free eggs and increasing the healthy options.

Some of the options include sandwiches or salads made from the five types of chicken salad they make themselves. They also have nuts, fruit and cheese packets, along with many other food options. If interested, you can contact Canteen directly from their information posted on the vending machines and request different choices.

In addition to changes within the Cougar Café, food trucks were introduced this summer.

On the Oregon City campus, two food carts per day can sign up. To have better coordination and help finding spots, Leah Tucker, founder of the Oregon Mobile Food Truck Alliance, sought out an app and street finder program to accommodate the Oregon mobile food trucks.

“Oregon has an incredibly unique mobile food scene,” Tucker said. “It’s unlike anything else in the country.”

To find out which food trucks are signed up, check streetfoodfinder. com (search for Oregon City and click Hot Spots.)

If the café, food trucks and vending machines aren’t enough for you while on campus, or if you want options when the food trucks are gone and the café is closed, you can get snacks and drink items from the Student Government Office located in CC 152 or the Bookstore on the Oregon City Campus.

Some students have even been known to order from GrubHub or other food delivery services. The food delivery companies ask that when ordering, you give specific details to where the food should be delivered to insure you get what you paid for, on time. If that’s not enough, bring your own food.