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Ellen Ciurczak/Hattiesburg American

Slow-roasted chicken, calzones, Southern food, vegetarian options, hot desserts — these items and many more are now available to students at Pearl River Community College who patronize the school’s cafeteria.

Students returned to school earlier this month to find the Olivia Bender Cafeteria had a new look and was serving all kinds of tasty food — from Mexican to Vietnamese.

“Our main goal was to enhance the student dining experience by creating an open, modern space and serving freshly prepared foods enjoyed by today’s students,” said Todd Hickman with Valley Services in an email.

Valley Services operates PRCC food services and spent $600,000 to remodel the cafeteria. It ripped out the old serving lines and installed new stations that don’t require trays.

“The new stations feature a rotisserie station, signature deli sandwiches, global trend foods, house-made pizza, cafe classics and desserts,” Hickman said. 

There is no longer one, long serving line. Students can approach any of the nine stations they desire and pick up the item of their choice, then head to drink dispensers located away from the food areas.

“The food’s a lot better,” said sophomore Hunter King in a news release.

Valley Services had previously upgraded cooking equipment in the kitchen and updated the seating space, so Hickman said it was time for the serving area to get a facelift. 

“Valley and the college recognized the serving space needed an updated modern look to maintain the level of service PRCC and Valley consider necessary for a school of PRCC’s standards,” he said. “We believe PRCC now has a modern dining commons that ranks among the best community college venues in the country.”

Leah Woodward, PRCC food services manager, did not return calls seeking comment on the upgrade, but Hickman said the response has been good.

“We were hoping for the ‘wow’ factor, and we succeeded,” he said. “The reaction … has been overwhelmingly positive.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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