The Daily Gamecock

Dining on a 'shoestring': Carolina Catering introduces new option

Program offers discounted rates to student organizations

It's not quite the dollar menu, but Carolina Dining will now offer student organizations an option for cheaper on-campus catering.

Sodexo kicked off its "Shoestring Catering" service with a food sampling ranging from hors d'oeuvres to dessert in the Russell House Ballroom Wednesday evening.

Carolina Catering, a division of Carolina Dining, already handles catering for the university's administration and faculty, but for the past 12 years, it hasn't provided that service to student organizations, according to Rick Gant, the catering director. The new initiative, a project of USC's former Student Body President Joe Wright, aims to provide competitively priced food for student organizations, which might not be able to foot the bill for a Carolina Catering event.

"It's the basics — affordable and simple," Gant said.

Wright said he had been working on the initiative since last year and hoped it would offer student organizations 25 percent in savings from Carolina Dining's previous catering prices.

"They didn't feel like they were getting a competitive price for using Carolina Dining's food services," Wright said. So he negotiated with Sodexo and worked out a new, more student-oriented menu.

In most cases, the cost decreased from Carolina Catering, but prices range significantly based on the food items requested. "Basic flavors" of ice cream costs $40 for three gallons — 50 servings, according to the menu — while "premium flavors" cost $50 for three gallons. Ice cream toppings such as chocolate sauce, fruit and sprinkles cost an additional $75 for 50 servings.

Chicken wings go for $65 for 100, compared to $65.39 (including tax) for the same number from Wing Zone. Rice Krispies treats and brownies sell for $12 per dozen.

Each can of soda costs $1.25, sweet tea sells for $10 per gallon, and coffee is $12 per gallon.

To use the "Shoestring Catering," student organizations also pay a $20 setup and delivery fee, though that charge can be avoided by picking up the food from the catering office in Capstone House, according to the menu.

Cynthia Steele, the marketing manager at Carolina Dining, said she sent an email to leaders in USC's student organizations and to Housing promoting the event; about 50 students attended the event, Steele said.

Hilary Yeh, a third-year hospitality management student who attended the showcase event, said she planned on using the new catering option for an upcoming luncheon. She and her friend Rachel Haisfield, a second-year hospitality management student, sampled some of the food laid out at the showcase. They described the fruit as "juicy" and the Rice Krispies treats as "homemade, soft, and delicious."

"We'll probably do a fruit tray or sandwiches," Yeh said. "We'll probably have to feed 25 to 35 people. It's convenient and directed towards us, so that's nice."