Division of Housing

Photo Credit: Tiffany Hinojosa | Daily Texan Staff

Blue Bell Ice Cream and Sabra have issued recalls for many of their products because of a possible contamination with Listeria Monocytogens, a food bacterium. The Division of Housing and Food Service said it removed all possibly contaminated food items from campus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium commonly known as listeria. Common symptoms of listeriosis include fever and muscle aches, headaches, stiff necks, confusion, loss of balance and possible
intestinal problems.

University Health Services medical director David Vander Straten said students should not become worried if they recently ate any Blue Bell or Sabra products.

“Students might have listeria, but if [they] don’t have any symptoms, there’s no need to worry about it,” Straten said.

All Blue Bell products have been recalled from the main markets on campus, including Jester City Market and Cypress Café, according to DHFS food service director Rene Rodriguez.

The CDC encourages individuals to check the code date on the bottom of Blue Bell ice creams in order to find out where the ice cream was produced. If the code date ends in an S, T, O, P, Q or R, the CDC recommends placing the ice cream in a sealed plastic bag and throwing it away.

Sabra hummus products remain in markets on campus because the recall did not include any of the products in the University’s inventory.

“At no point were any of the affected hummus products stocked in Housing and Food Service outlets on campus,” Rodriguez said. “The lot numbers and package sizes affected were not a match to our purchased products.”

Undeclared freshman Quoc Le said he continued to eat Sabra products, even though he read on his Twitter feed that the products had been recalled.

“I just assumed that the Sabra packages at Jester Market [were] not part of the ones that had been recalled,” Le said.

There have been eight confirmed cases of listeriosis linked to the contamination of Blue Bell products, with five of the cases reported from Kansas and three cases from Texas. Three individuals from Kansas have died from listeriosis.

The most recent major listeria outbreak involved prepackaged caramel apples made with Bidart Bros. Apples in December 2014. The outbreak resulted in 35 reported cases across the nation and seven deaths. 

According to the CDC, the 2014 outbreak seems to be over, although people who continue to eat the recalled products may be at risk of contamination.

The Division of Student Affairs selected Hemlata Jhaveri, who currently serves as director of administrative services for the Division of Housing and Food Service, to be executive director of DHFS.

Jhaveri will take over for Floyd Hoelting, who is retiring after serving 20 years as executive director. Jhaveri will take up her post June 1, according to Tom Dison, who oversees housing and food services as senior associate vice president.  

“What stood out [about Hemlata] was her spirit of collaboration that she’s already demonstrated her past five years on campus,” Dison said. “When I talked to students, time after time they were very high on her. I think she’s got a very real commitment to both student and staff success.”

Jhaveri was hired after a months-long process that included a national search, a screening committee and extensive input from administration, student-body representatives and faculty, according to Dison.

For the 2014–2015 school year, the the University was unable to accommodate 2,380 of the 9,743 students who applied for housing, according to Alison Kothe, communications and marketing coordinator for DHFS.

Jhaveri said meeting student demands for housing is one of her top priorities, along with addressing diversity issues on campus.

“The first task will be to talk to students and get their feedback [on housing and food],” said Jhaveri. “Balancing the demand of what students want will be crucial, especially because the student population changes.”

About 63 percent of on-campus student residents are first-time students, according to Jhaveri.

“Housing and food plays such an important role in connecting students to the University,” Jhaveri said.

The Staff Ombuds Office and Division of Housing and Food Service hosted Share-A-Taco Day at the Blanton Museum Faulkner Plaza, where live music and free tacos delighted both staff members and postdoctoral researchers Wednesday.

Through the public event, the Staff Ombuds Office attempted to increase staff members’ awareness of the office. 

The ombuds office aims to assist staff members by providing them an outlet to voice any concerns or difficulties they might have and to provide them with a variety of options to resolve their concerns, according to Jennifer Graf Sims, the first staff ombuds officer at the University. 

“We are a confidential resource for folks to talk to us about any workplace problem,” Sims said. “It could be something as small as your co-worker not saying hello to something big such as a wrongdoing on campus.”

The need for confidentiality has limited outreach efforts, according to Sims. 

“A lot of the work we do is behind closed doors, so we don’t get to go out and interact, so [the event] was a great way to do that and spread the word,” Sims said.

The event received an overwhelming attendance from staff who waited in crowded lines while listening to music played by Jason Molin, digital media manager at the University.

According to staff ombuds officer Jeremy Roye, the invitation to the event drew around 500 responses from staff members, who showed up in full force Wednesday.

Although it is a small office with limited resources, the staff ombuds office was able to get local sponsorships from O’s Campus Cafe and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop for the event, Roye said. 

The office stimulated communication among faculty members by encouraging them to spread kindness by sharing thank-you notes and tacos with other faculty.

“We wanted a way to have others help appreciate staff, build community and hook ‘em with kindness,” Sims said.

The office hopes to be able to continue hosting public events like Share-A-Taco Day in the near future.

“We want to do another kindness event, maybe a taco event,” Roye said. “I’d love to see this turn into an official day in Austin, Share-A-Taco Day.”

Correction: In an earlier version of this article, the group the Staff Ombuds Office assists was misidentified.

Photo Credit: Connor Murphy | Daily Texan Staff

Students consume about 77 percent more bananas than they do apples, according to 2013 data from the Division of Housing and Food Service, making them the most popular fruit sold by the University.

In 2013, the University purchased 238,320 bananas, while only purchasing 71,559 apples. Darla Stewart, DHFS assistant director for purchasing and procurement, said the University uses a food management software system to determine how many cases of bananas and other types of fruit should be purchased from the produce vendors who provide shipments daily.

“The [dining hall] managers will go into the system and forecast the number of students or customers they expect to have,” Stewart said. “They say, ‘OK, for this meal period — say, for lunch in [Jester Second Floor Dining] — we’ll probably have 1,500 people.’ They’ll enter 1,500, and the computer, using its data that has been put in, and historic data, will then come up with an amount that needs to be purchased.”

Stewart said the system, which has been in place for about 20 years, is accurate enough that there is rarely any leftover fruit.

“We utilize every bit of fruit,” Stewart said. “If, for instance, there are some bananas, which would be the only fruit that’s leftover, we freeze them and use them in our banana bread.”

According to Scott Meyer, DHFS food service director, besides leftover food items, fruits that sell out are also indicators of how much fruit to purchase.

“Every week, [the system is] updating itself,” Meyer said. “[If the system] told you to buy four cases of apples, and you used all four of them, you might want to get five cases next time.”

According to Stewart, increased methods of transportation have allowed fruit to be shipped globally, while still maintaining excellent quality.

“In the last 20 years, my bet is that there is more fruit being eaten now than then,” Meyer said. 

According to Stewart, the increased education regarding the values of eating fruits may be another reason for increased fruit consumption.

Biology senior Cameron Ginnings said he generally eats a banana once a week when he eats the fajitas in Jester City Limits, and that he makes use of the option in JCL to substitute any side with a piece of fruit or small salad.

“Whenever I get the fajitas, I like the beans, but I don’t like the rice, so I get a banana for a side,” Ginnings said. “[Bananas] taste good. That’s why I choose them over an apple.”

Fourteen new fruit trees were recently added to the UT orchard located at the intersection of San Jacinto and East 24th street. The orchard was founded in the spring of 2010 in order to raise environmental awareness.

 

Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

Students broke new ground in environmental awareness, as 14 new fruit trees were recently added to the UT Orchard.

The Orchard, located at the intersection of San Jacinto and East 24th streets, was founded in spring 2010 as part of an initiative to generate environmental awareness and encourage student involvement. 

Students from several environmental organizations around campus, including the Campus Environmental Center and the Division of Housing and Food Service’s Green Corps, helped plant and mulch the new trees. Fig, persimmon, lemon, kumquat and chokecherry trees were among the new varieties added to the Orchard. 

According to Jennifer Hrobar, supervisor of urban forestry for the University, the new trees were chosen because of their relatively low need for maintenance and ability to grow well in the Central Texas climate.

Hrobar said planting the new trees was part of an effort for the University to maintain its status as a Tree Campus USA member — a designation awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation to schools that follow certain guidelines in managing trees on campus — requiring the University to host a service-learning project for students.

Emily Mixon, Plan II senior and director of the Campus Environmental Center, said she thinks UT’s continued involvement with Tree Campus USA is important because it raises awareness about environmental issues on campus.

“I wish more people realized the guidelines that go into planting trees on campus,” Mixon said. “I think it’s a great way to get students plugged into noticing nature in our everyday lives and being conscientious about how they use campus as a whole.” 

According to Hrobar, the Orchard supervisors will grow the trees using a minimal amount of pesticides in an attempt to promote environmental sustainability.

“We don’t use many pesticides on the trees, and we use organic fertilizer,” Hrobar said. “We want anyone to be able to go out there, pick fruit and eat it, without worrying about ingesting any chemicals.”

Hunter Mangrum, environmental specialist at Division of Housing and Food Service, said he thinks allowing students to plant the trees encourages them to learn about sustainability on campus.  

“I think it’s a really cool way to reach students,” Mangrum said. “It’s a very hands-on type of approach to get students involved with planting and landscaping to promote sustainability.” 

Emily Twa is a contestant in the Cupcake Showdown, a cupcake competition organized by the Division of Housing and Food Service for student organizations. The live cupcake bake-off involves 2 rounds and the winning organization will receive $1000 to donate to the charity of their choice.

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

Perhaps there is no other baked good that inspires more passion than the cupcake. Cupcake lovers argue over the dominance of red velvet versus Funfetti, buttercream frosting versus chocolate ganache, and even the proper way to eat a cupcake. These conflicting views may come to a tension-filled climax at the University of Texas’ first ever battle royal of baking. 

The University of Texas is no stranger to competition. The Longhorns’ academic achievement and athletic prowess are forces to be reckoned with for universities throughout the nation. UT’s Division of Housing and Food Service has decided to use the Texas student competitive spirit in a new forum. It is hosting an event open to all student organizations called the Cupcake Showdown.

The Cupcake Showdown involves two rounds: a video preliminary round and a final live bake-off. The winning organization will receive $1000 to donate to the charity of their choice.

The first round requires each participating organization to make a cupcake that reflects what their group is all about. The groups will make a video explaining their confection and why it is worthy of the cupcake crown. Then they will post the videos to YouTube and send the link to DHFScontest@austin.utexas.edu by Feb. 18.  After watching each video, DHFS will pick four finalists to compete in a live bake-off Feb. 27 at J2 Dining Hall where a winner will be chosen.

“We serve food to the students and they eat with us, but we want our interaction with the students to be more personal and fun,” Lindsay Gaydos, DHFS dietitian and co-leader of the Cupcake Showdown, said. 

Kathy Phan, Gaydos’s partner and marketing coordinator of DHFS, agreed that increased student participation and enthusiasm in DHFS events is the main goal of the competition, the first of its kind offered to student organizations.

Student participation is often an issue for events like the Cupcake Showdown. This is especially true if they involve sitting in a large space, watching amateur students bake for a substantial period of time. Phan and Gaydos have a plan to stimulate the crowd. 

“We’re having a food drive at the bake-off, plus a photo booth, cupcake taste testing and a ‘decorate your own cupcake’ activity to make the event more interactive,” Gaydos said.

The final bake-off requires the finalists to use a collection of secret ingredients in their final cakes, all of which are Texas-themed. The possibilities are horrifying to imagine — perhaps jalapenos or Texas BBQ. Although the latter may be mildly ridiculous, DHFS probably has some surprises up their sleeves that would make an Iron Chef cringe.

“We like challenges, so we’re really excited for this,” said Nick Marino, a UT senior and representative baker from student improv troupe Gigglepants. “Our cupcake will probably be vomit-inducing, but it’s going to look great.”

Participating groups represent a diverse cross-section of the UT population, including several nutritional and vegetarian organizations, religious communities, philanthropic sisterhoods and even a few University fraternities.

Emily Twa, a UT freshman, is representing Texas Spirits, a UT spirit and social group, for the competition. If chosen as the champion, Texas Spirits plans to donate the $1000 to either St. Louise House or the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“I love baking, so this seemed like an easy way to get Spirits involved on campus,” Twa said. “I’ll just have to bring my cutest apron and hope for the best.”

Perhaps this event is not at the intensity and danger level of The Hunger Games, but the combatant nature of UT’s on-campus clubs is sure to come out. It’s time to get out the armory of whisks and wooden spoons, there is a sweet storm brewing and undoubtedly no one will leave hungry.

Published on February 11, 2013 as "Student organizations compete in cupcake challenge". 

Freshman math and pre-med double major Alicia Sego relaxes in her San Jacinto dorm room with roomate Christina Nguyen in-between classes Tuesday afternoon. San Jacinto Residence Hall will be offering a limited number of full year contracts in the 2013-2014 school year.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

The Division of Housing and Food Service (DHFS) is offering full-year contracts to incoming and returning students looking for the full on-campus living experience during the 2013-2014 school year.

The contracts are for a limited number of rooms in the San Jacinto Residence Hall. Previously, students could only sign dorm contracts through the fall and spring semesters.

DHFS decided to offer the new type of contract because of students who need a place to live during winter and summer breaks, when most other residential dorms are closed, said Laurie Mackey, director of administrative services for DHFS.

“People who don’t live here and can’t afford to go back home, or who have a job in Austin and have to work over the summer or for winter break” will likely benefit from the contract plan the most, Mackey said.

She said DHFS will be monitoring applications and available space to find out how many contracts can be offered. 

“It’s going to depend on the interest and how much space we have, and we won’t know that until probably after May 1,” Mackey said.

Students will benefit from the new contract plan if they plan to stay in the Austin area for the full year.

Piano performance freshman Yanni Chan said she had no other choice but to stay with a friend in Houston during the winter break. With plane tickets too expensive to fly back to Macau, China, she said it would have been easier if she could have stayed on campus.

“It would be a lot better because I know people who can’t get back home and they would have to spend $35 per night,” Chan said. “If the dorms were open, we wouldn’t have to worry about money or finding places to stay.”

According to DHFS, there is an option to select a full-year contract in the 2013 housing application, but because of the limited number of rooms, not all students with this preference will be offered a full-year contract.

Mackey said that students who are not offered contracts will be offered the nine-month contract and can pay separately to live on campus in the summer if they wish. 

Students who receive full-year housing contracts will move in at the same time as everyone else in August but can stay in their rooms during holidays and breaks through the fall and spring semesters.

Public relations freshman Madelynne Rodriguez recently reapplied to live in the San Jacinto Residence Hall and is hoping to receive a full-year contract.

“I feel like it makes more sense because it’s a full year,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like its overall easier and it’ll definitely take stress out of people’s lives.”

Konrad Bouffard, owner of Round Rock Honey Company, harvests honey produced in one of the company’s many local bee hives early Wednesday morning.

Photo Credit: Pearce Murphy | Daily Texan Staff

For beekeeper Konrad Bouffard it is honey harvesting season, and some of his harvest will be served with fresh bread at campus dining halls Thursday in support of locally produced food.

Bouffard, owner of Round Rock Honey, is one of several producers who supply local food to UT’s Division of Housing and Food Service through the Sustainable Food Center. The center’s Farm to Cafeteria program connects local growers, including Bouffard, with organizations looking for locally grown products.

“This started with honey from my backyard, selling it at the Austin Farmers’ Market. Now we’ve been with SFC for 10 years,” Bouffard said. “We want to be associated with the large buyers as well as small buyers like at the market. It’s great to be involved with UT. We appreciate their business. They’re helping us out and we’re helping them too.”

DHFS currently directs 23 percent of its $8 million food budget toward local foods grown within a 150-mile radius, from farms ranging between 5 and 200 acres. DHFS environmental specialist Hunter Mangrum said the division’s goal is to increase the amount of locally grown food DHFS serves by 2 percent annually.

“If we can further drive that economy to support local farmers to do organic, hormone-free products, then that’s where we want to spend,” Mangrum said. “It does cost a bit and requires more prep time, but we care about the issue and think it’s important and we’re willing to go that extra mile.”

DHFS hosted a Local Harvest Dinner Wednesday with a menu consisting of only locally grown food at J2 and Kinsolving dining halls to raise awareness of the division’s commitment to supporting local farmers.

Mangrum said the local food takes longer to prepare in-house because the farmers do not process the produce the way a corporate farm would.

Lindsey Gaydos, registered dietician for DHFS, said some foods can be healthier if produced locally because of reduced travel time.

“There are certain things, like produce, that if you shorten the time it takes to get from the farm to the table then it is retaining more nutrients,” Gaydos said. “That’s not true for all food items like your meats and your grains. It also depends on the farming practices of the farmers themselves in terms of pesticides and soil.”

Cecil Winzer, Sustainable Food Center’s Farmers’ Market manager, coordinates the center’s Farm to Cafeteria program and said DHFS is the center’s biggest buyer. He said DHFS is in the process of furthering its commitment to local farmers through predetermined contracts that will notify farmers of the foods UT will need in the future, allowing farmers the opportunity to grow more with a guarantee the crop will be sold.

“A lot of farmers just grow what they will need at the market, and they are selling their bumper crop [to the Sustainable Food Center],” Winzer said. “This will be more predictable and the farmers won’t have to worry if planting extra will pay off or not.”

Printed on Thursday, October 25, 2012 as: Local food is all the buzz

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Although UT has compensated for state appropriation cuts by increasing tuition and implementing internal reductions, the University’s self-supporting entities have increased their budgets in the last few years while paying millions of dollars into the academic budget.

University operations that generate external income are considered self-supported, and come from two sources: auxillary enterprises and other entities. Auxiliary enterprises include Intercollegiate Athletics, the Division of Housing and Food Service and the Frank Erwin Center. Other entities include KUT Radio and the McDonald Observatory. The self-supporting portion of the University budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year is $386 million, or 16 percent of UT’s $2.3 billion total budget. Most of the self-supporting portion of the budget comes from auxiliary enterprises, which total $281 million, a figure that has steadily increased for the past decade.

Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer, said auxiliary enterprises play a vital role in maintaining the University’s financial budget by paying into the University’s academic budget despite the fact they don’t receive tuition dollars.

Auxiliary enterprises are required to contribute 3.25 percent of their gross revenue to reimburse the University for administrative services, including accounting, human resources and legal services. They are also required to contribute any income from investments.

“The thought is that we benefit from them and they benefit from us aside from the back-office operations we provide,” Hegarty said. “These auxiliary activities contribute to campus in many different ways, so we incentivize them to go out there and do their best.”

Hegarty said the University began collecting 3.25 percent contributions and investment income in 2008 to offset reductions to other areas of the University’s academic budget.

Intercollegiate Athletics, the University’s largest auxiliary enterprise, makes up $137 million of the budget — a $56 million increase since 2006, including a $23 million increase in 2011 after the launch of the Longhorn Network.

The athletics department usually contributes between $15 million and $20 million to the University’s academic budget each year, including revenue from trademarks sales and the Longhorn Network, Hegarty said.

The University also has access to all profits from the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, the University’s third-largest auxiliary enterprise, Hegarty said.

“We sit down and decide what amount we want to set aside for future capital and renovation,” Hegarty said. “The rest goes to the University’s academic budget and the McCombs School of Business.”

The Division of Housing and Food Services is the University’s second-largest auxiliary enterprise, and its budget has increased $16 million since 2006. Hegarty said the division usually contributes $1 million to the academic budget every year.

The division’s budget increase comes from room and board rate increases in recent years, Heather Pruitt, assistant director of financial services for the division, said.

Room and board rates have consistently increased for the last 11 years, including a 2.5 percent increase this year and an average 3.9 percent increase annually, according to figures obtained from Pruitt.

“The cost of labor and cost of food has gone up, and we have been investing in renovation projects with all expenses coming from our revenue,” she said. “At any given time, we have around 1,000 employees, and we pay all salaries including those of administrators.”

As the upcoming state legislative session approaches, Hegarty said the University will continue to look for ways every business affiliated with UT, including auxiliary enterprises, can contribute to the academic budget in the event of funding cuts from the state. During the last legislative sesion, the University faced a $92 million decrease in state funds. State general revenue makes up 13 percent of UT’s $2.3 billion annual operating budget.

Printed on Thursday, October 18, 2012 as: Self-supporting entities assist funding

On a recent evening, my roommate and I were commiserating about our freshman year weight gain. We are both now juniors, and still, so to speak, working our asses off to get rid of that weight.

Of course I could blame the late night Kerbey Lane runs or the Girl Scout cookie table set up in front of PCL, but there is more to the matter than a couple of cookies here and there.

Despite earnest efforts from the Division of Housing and Food Service to inform students about the peril of the infamous Freshman 15, weight gain during freshman year of college remains a sizeable subject.

It is clear that the lack of groceries for sale and inconvenient hours of campus dining centers are to blame.

The only two cafeteria-style dining options on campus are Kinsolving Market and J2 Dining. At J2 Dining, facilities close at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, while at Kinsolving Dining, facilities close at 7:00 p.m. These are simply not convenient hours for students with busy schedules and late afternoon classes.

The only option for evening dining is Jester City Limits, which closes at 11:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday — and for students (particularly female students) living in the Whitis area community, hiking across campus at night for dinner is not the safest option.

The wise RA would suggest keeping some healthy meals stocked in your dorm room for those occasions — more often than not in my case — when you are delayed studying past the cafeteria hours. So you head to one of the on-campus “markets” to stock up. Your fruit options: apples, bananas, oranges, and if you’re lucky, a pear. Available vegetables: carrot sticks or a prepared salad.

The Co-op Market on the Drag opened in the fall of 2011 in response to these very complaints — but it is hardly a dietary salvation to the nutrient-deprived student with its overpriced upscale yogurt and convenience store feel.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that the University Co-op took the initiative to open a grocery-ish option for on-campus students. Upon visiting the Co-op Market earlier this week, I found that they did indeed have more fruit options than the on-campus markets – they sell grapes!

The H-E-B on 41st Street is, by far, the best grocery option for on-campus students with its reasonable prices and greater selection of healthy food. But what is the point of paying for Dine-in Dollars and Bevo Bucks, as is required for on-campus students, if you don’t use them for the dining options available?

“The biggest problem for me was the payment plan,” says Cassie Shankman, a busy music student who lived at Jester and Duren dorms before moving off campus this year. “You only have so much money to allot for the year, and you have to use that carefully. Every time you go to the cafeteria it costs money just to get in, so you only go once and you load up on as much food as possible. You can’t take away food, so you’re reliant on the on-campus markets for snacks and your other meals – and there aren’t that many healthy options. Sure, you can live that way, but you’re going to gain weight.”

Weight gain is an increasingly pervasive topic on college campuses, and a sensitive one at that. The Division of Housing and Food Service and the University Health Services are already doing an outstanding job of combatting weight gain in dorm students. But there is more to be done if students are still gaining weight despite increased nutritional awareness.

One option is to place calorie labels on every food available on campus for consumption. Currently, there are no nutrition labels placed on prepared foods available in campus markets that are marketed for individual sale. Cafeterias should also place caloric values on every item available in the cafeteria. Another option is to extend cafeteria hours for those with full schedules. The DHFS could also consider an unlimited access meal plan or a numbered visit meal plan like many universities employ.

Simply put, it’s time for the Division of Housing and Food Service and the University Health Services to take some action on a problem that has become well-known on campuses across the country. We students appreciate their efforts to date — but they’re not enough.

Mathis is a musicology and English major from Denton.