By Emily Hernandez:
Imagine AC’s Washington Street Campus with a cafeteria. It’s hard to visualize now since there’s Chick-fil-A, vending machines and the occasional club fundraisers that involve food. But once, there was a standard cafeteria on campus for the use of students and faculty.
Prior to 2011, there were cafeterias on the Washington Street and East Campuses. They provided students with fresh meals like sandwiches, salads and wraps for a decent price. Due to the inability to afford it, AC decided to shut the doors on the lunchrooms May 2011. While open, the cafeterias had an average loss of $100,000 a year.
“With AC being a community college, I couldn’t imagine having a cafeteria on campus. I don’t think I would have ever used it anyways I’m always too busy,” Jaxon Keller, a biology major, said.
With no cafeterias open to feed faculty and students, AC decided to rebid its contract May 2012 with Custom Foods, which is the company that provides the school with vending machines in the former Washington Street Campus cafeteria. The five-year contract stated that Custom Foods would be the only company that fed students on campus during that time.
“I hardly use the vending machines available on campus. I don’t think they provide healthy options. I’d rather wait and go eat an actual meal off-campus,” Carson West, a general studies major, said.
A few years later, AC President Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart and Joshua Raef, restaurant operator of Georgia Street Chick-fil-A, made an agreement to have Chick-fil-A on campus. Nov. 16, 2015 the Chick-fil-A lunch service began serving the Washington Street Campus.
“I started attending AC spring 2015 when there was no Chick-fil-A option. Now that it’s there, it’s nice having the option available if I want to get a quick bite to eat between classes without leaving campus,” Anthony Hernandez, a secondary education major, said.
Oct. 2016 AC Board of Regents voted for the locally owned and operated Palace Coffee shop to establish their presence on the Washington Street Campus to provide an on-campus coffee shop for students. Anytime class is in session, the coffee shop’s full menu of coffee and food will be available. With the administration and Palace owners still working and finalizing the details of the on-campus coffee shop, the projected opening of 2017 fall semester has been pushed to an unsure estimated date.
From cafeteria to no cafeteria, to vending machines and Chick-fil-A and to the hopeful promise of Palace Coffee Company, AC’s food history has changed from traditional eating to contemporary consuming.