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Kat Schmidt, Food Coordinator

Going into this, we knew this task would be time-intensive.  This being our first time, we also were not very time-efficient during the pre-Con phase.  We initially over-spent our budget by $80, but after Con we returned $100 worth of food, so it worked out.  We definitely overestimated how much food we needed to buy, but at least no one went hungry!   We spent 5 hours planning the menu, making up the shopping list, and scaling up.  We spent another 5 hours grocery shopping on Thursday night, and several hours Friday morning on pre-prep.

What we did right:

  • Made the menu up 1 week ahead of time (Friday before).

  • Made the menu flexible enough to accommodate last-minute registration allergy/diet needs (things like sandwiches, burritos, potato bar, etc. allow people to pick and choose what they incorporate into their meal).

  • Buying from WinCo in bulk.

  • Having veggies to snack on constantly; we received SO MANY positive reviews of the broccoli and carrots + hummus.

  • Not screwing the vegans and vegetarians over!  It's been Kat's experience that a lot of times food coordinators make 4-5 things for omnis, of which maybe 1-2 things vegans can eat.  Which SUCKS.  So we made a really concerted effort to be inclusive of the people with restricted diets, and consequently received a lot of positive feedback from grateful Con-goers.  

  • Vegan pancakes are a hit!

  • Having a menu posted, with all of the ingredients and potential allergens, at a place visible to the Con-goers, and also in the kitchen.

  • Having a master list printed out and in the kitchen, with everyone's names and dietary restrictions, as well as a summary of how many people per diet.

  • Either prepping all of the allergen-food ourselves, or delegating the task only to people whom we knew to be conscientious of such things.

  • Bringing an electric griddle, ourselves, since the church had a severe lack!

  • Bringing massive amounts of containers for leftovers, plastic wrap, aluminum foil.

  • Labeling everything.

  • Using boxes instead of grocery bags to transport food.

  • Keeping the grocery bags from the stores, and reusing them Sunday morning to push leftovers on people.

  • Keeping most of the groceries sorted by meal.

  • Incorporating previous meals into later meals (e.g. the leftover vegan sausage from Sat. breakfast was added to the vegan chili Sat. dinner, and some of the leftover bacon became the bacon gravy).

  • Being really diligent with finishing one container before opening another, and making food available on an as-needed basis (e.g. doling out the bread and bagels).  This is what enabled us to recoup $100 after Con!

Things we learned:

  • Do NOT go to CostCo, at least not for a Con in the 40-50 person range.  The quantities there are too large, and generate waste.  Plus, both times we were there, the employees were really rude.

  • WinCo is our best friend, and we should go there FIRST.

  • Friday dinner we don't need to plan on feeding as many people as there are attendees, because a lot of people will have already eaten during their trip to Con.

  • Similarly, a lot of people won't be up Saturday morning in time for breakfast, so we need less food.  Except for bacon.  We could feed bacon to people for forever.

  • Buy more grapes.  People looooove grapes.

  • It is better to buy more, smaller containers of food, because (a) if we don't use all of them, we can return them, and (b) as we go through the containers, they can be reused to store leftovers.

  • It is IMPERATIVE that food coordinators need to know about the kitchen's facilities!  If we hadn't brought our own glass baking dishes, electric griddle, AND large cooler, we would have been so screwed.  It still took a ridiculously long time to make breakfast on Saturday, and it sucked to not have a toaster for people.  If we'd known there was no toaster, we would have bought less bread, and instead provided cereal for Sunday.

  • DO NOT FORGET THE NUTELLA.  ALL HAIL THE NUTELLA.

  • PEOPLE EAT RIDICULOUS AMOUNTS OF YOGURT.

  • Surprisingly, very few people drank tea, so now the Con Box is well-supplied with teas.
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