Today, in our weekly meeting with Tim, we discussed an ACA Article about Food Services, which you can read for yourself here!
Currently, there a lot of obstacles that a camp kitchen staff faces concerning special dietary needs. Allergies to gluten, MSG, nuts are among just a few of the challenges that come up when creating a meal plan for a camp or retreat. We are fortunate at Happy Valley to have fantastic homemade dishes made by incredible chefs that produce equally yummy gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian dishes to the broad dietary audience of campers and staff.
In comparison to my home campgrounds (or to any restaurant really), the food here is phenomenal! It isn’t prepackaged or processed; in fairness, we had about triple the campers/counselors sometimes, so I can see how it might be cost-efficient to do it that way. However, I usually lost weight at camps when I would be there a couple weeks, but I’m pretty sure I could gain a lot of weight here if I’m not careful! It’s THAT good.
We all have noticed that HVCC food services shine in comparison to most campgrounds. Perhaps it’s the volume of campers/staff, talent of the cooks, tradition of the campgrounds, or a combination of all of those. Regardless, I certainly hope it stays the same as my belly always leaves satisfied and full!
Unfortunately when I think camp food I think pre-packaged, frozen pizzas, and not exactly yummy yummy in my belly. Last summer I was working in a very similar program at my home campgrounds where I ate the same food every week and I can tell you it took a toll on my body. I did not have a chance to eat a lot of fresh food, almost everything came from a box. The staff that cooked the camp’s meals, where I’m from, were always changing and many people were unfamiliar with how to service those with special needs in their diets.
Its very refreshing to be at a place, like Happy Valley, that sets the bar high for quality camp food. The staff here at Happy Valley do a fantastic job at being mindful and accommodating of people’s needs in terms of diet. In my few weeks that I have been here I have seen vegetarians, vegans, pescetarians, and many others with allergies had their needs met. They communicate with people staying here and then prepare appropriately for the information that they are given. It’s safe to say that I love the food here at Happy Valley!!
Growing up and going to my home camp it was never a surprise what we were going to be eating the week I got to reunion; although the menu was predictable, the quality of the food never disappointed. The food services sought to provide food that was both fresh, affordable, and could cater to a number of various dietary needs. For me and my family, camp food was never all that bad, but as I said before it was quite repetitive, so for the people and staff who rely on the camp food for multiple weeks during the summer, I would imagine camp food wasn’t very ideal.
This is where I saw the greatest difference between food here at Happy Valley and the food services at my home campgrounds, the variety. Happy Valley not only continues to make fresh meals and food from scratch throughout the summer, but the menu each week is always a surprise. They excel in providing some of the best food I’ve ever tasted, while still catering to those with dietary needs and preferences, AND they mix up the menu to keep variety alive.