From Delicious Food and Spontaneous Themed-Dinners to Allergy Safety

How does food factor into showing kids the best one or two weeks of their lives?  Well, quite a lot, actually!

At LLYC, we hold food service to the same standard as all other aspects of camp … excellence with a high calling.

According to Chandler Pruitt, who we all know has been here a REALLY long time, food is integral to the ministry and program of camp. Its quality reflects the broader program as a whole. “Good food and a great meal experience prime the pump for everything else that happens at camp.”

During the months of September through May, a great deal of planning and forethought go into the food services for the following summer and for each camperʼs meal experience as a whole. The camp directors and food services manager spend many hours together, evaluating and tweaking the camp food “experience,” including: safety, nutrition, taste/quality, and fun!  It is our mission to ensure that meal time reflects the excellence,creativity, and spontaneity of LLYC. (You should see the food/meal brainstorming list on the white board in the LLYC offices!)

Whether itʼs a crazy, fun, theme-night dinner, Rodeo, or a regular old lunch in the Ranch House, Ryan Hernandez, LLYC Food Services/Kitchen Manager, holds the philosophy that it is our job to provide safe, nutritious, and delicious meals to every camper.

In keeping with the importance placed on relationships at LLYC, meals are served “family style.”  We see so many benefits to serving meals this way. Counselors serve as the “hosts” of each table, fostering the camper/counselor family dynamic. It also helps to alleviate any uncertainty or insecurity on the campersʼ part about where to sit or not having someone to sit with. At camp, we want to encourage a real sense of community, and meal time is the perfect time to do just that.

As we mentioned earlier, safety is always on our minds. With allergy awareness and food sensitivities on the rise, parent communication remains crucial to Ryanʼs job in meal planning and precautionary measures. On opening day, Ryan or one of the camp Kitchen Directors is set up to conference with each camperʼs parent as to any allergies, food sensitivities, and the severity. Armed with this information, Ryan informs/trains the kitchen staff (Kitchen Directors, Cooks, Work Crew Bosses, and Crew) and makes camp-wide menu adjustments where needed.  Last summer, the LLYC kitchens (EV & SH) served nearly 80,000 meals combined, without one single allergy incident or illness. The bar has been set!

If there is a severe nut allergy (airborn or other,) LLYC is set-up for a peanut/nut “lock-down.” All peanut/nut related items are removed from the kitchen, Sugar Shack, and cabins for the session. Care packages are searched, and all nut-items are removed prior to delivery. The campersʼ safety and parents peace of mind is always at the forefront of our mind.

As we get into the swing of summer, we look forward to highlighting the meal-time fun for all to see!