Annual Harvest Feast draws thousands to dining halls
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
Students from all over campus flocked to the dining halls on Wednesday, Sept. 19, to enjoy UNH Dining’s annual Harvest Feast.
At Harvest Feast, visitors of the dining halls were able to enjoy a variety of foods, including butternut squash ravioli, an assortment of specialty butter and a wide array of fall-themed desserts, such as pumpkin marble cheesecake. All of these dishes were produced from food from local farmers and vendors.
The daylong event kicked off at 7:30 a.m. in Stillings Dining Hall, which served breakfast until 11 a.m., when the event moved to Philbrook Dining Hall, where it ran from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. for lunch. Harvest Feast concluded in Holloway Commons for dinner, where the festivities started at 4:30 p.m. and ran until closure of the dining hall at 9 p.m.
The feast is UNH Dining’s biggest event of the year.
“A lot of planning goes into pulling an event off like this,” said Jon Plodzik, director of dining, “particularly because we’re working with a lot of local vendors, who aren’t necessarily accustomed to the volume we need to feed the campus community here.”
Plodzik estimated that close to 50 vendors participated in the event this year.
According to Plodzik, planning for Harvest Feast starts approximately six months before the event is set to take place. This is so Plodzik, other employees and UNH Dining Services can start to coordinate with vendors, especially those who provide the larger protein items like chicken and beef.
“We might clean out all of the animals on (the vendor’s) farm to pull this event off,” Plodzik said.
Vendors at the event were happy to be able to participate in this year’s Harvest Feast. Jim Molisse of Costa Food & Produce, a produce company located in Boston, said that his organization has participated in the event since Harvest Feast’s inception.
Molisse also recognizes how huge of a success the event is with students.
“I think (the students) love it,” Molisse said. “As we can see by the crowds, I think all three- breakfast, lunch and dinner- go very well.”
At the dinner, Molisse and Costa Food & Produce had a booth set up outside of the dining hall showcasing what the company has to offer. They distributed free Gala apples throughout the event.
Attendance-wise, the event was a huge success. At one point during dinner, the line had to be held while overflow seating was set up in the Piscataqua Room downstairs.
According to Plodzik, each of the three dining halls was roughly seeing “an extra thousand people per meal period.”
“We are busier than we normally are, and that is great,” Plodzik said. “That means students are traveling around campus, and faculty and staff are joining in as well.”
Students who did attend the event enjoyed the wide array of food and the change from the normal dining food. Freshman Samantha Raymond said she really enjoyed what the dining halls had to offer for Harvest Feast.
“I thought there was a nice variety of things, like different meats like elk,” Raymond said. “Dining halls tend to do the same meals every once and a while, so having the different foods was nice.”
Other students, such as junior David Johnson, were initially unaware that Harvest Feast was taking place on Wednesday.
“I didn’t even know it was Harvest Feast, so I was very surprised,” Johnson said. He was quick to mention that he thoroughly enjoyed what the dining halls had to offer.
“The chicken was good; the chicken was very good,” Johnson said.
With this year’s Harvest Feast now complete, Plodzik and UNH Dining Services already have their minds on next year’s event.