Photo by Kaitlin Oki/ Nevada Sagebrush

By Lauren Huneycutt

The salad preparer, the baker and the sushi maker all work to keep the University of Nevada, Reno supplied with food they make fresh every day.

The packaged food that stocks the shelves of Bytes, Elements and will stock The Works, which is slated to open in the Fitzgerald Student Services building summer 2014, is made fresh throughout the day in The Overlook.

“Freshness is the most important thing,” said Dan Lyons, night manager for Bytes coffee shop located in the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center. “When we run out of something, I put in the order and the chefs make it right then and there.”

The university orders its food from Chartwells, a mass food distribution company. According to its website, Chartwells has a food philosophy. Among many other promises, it works to provide “whole fresh ingredients, limited use of processed foods and to avoid foods containing preservatives and high levels of sodium or MSG.”

Apples and bananas supplied by Chartwells are offered at the checkout of Bytes and Elements. According to Lyons, the price was recently lowered to 99 cents per piece of fruit in an effort to convenience students.

The fruit is therefore readily available and inexpensive. However, the ripeness of the fruit is not guaranteed.

“Every time I want a banana they are either super ripe and look like they belong in the trash or are super green,” said sophomore Katherine Gabrie. “One day I went to three places before I ended up buying an apple.”

The university’s effort to make nutritious food easily available is obvious, but it also tries to strike a balance among quality, cost and availability.

Chartwells broadcasts its sustainable food programs and initiatives and works to fulfill those movements by supporting local farms as much as possible.

“Chartwells uses San Francisco Specialty for our produce,” said Russ Meyer, associate director for Residential Life, Housing and Food Services. “Because northern Nevada does not have the ability to grow everything we offer, Chartwells opted to use farms in northern California, San Francisco and Sacramento for produce and meats.”

Its website states, “Chartwells has implemented food sourcing policies for purchasing sustainable food products including 100 percent certified seafood, cage-free shell eggs, hormone and antibiotic-free chicken, turkey, pork, grass-fed beef and rBGH free milk.”

The Overlook uses the best quality food possible for the amount the university demands.

According to Meyer, in order to cut down on food miles the university works with Chartwells to outsource food from California instead of Mexico.

“We do our best to be as local as possible,” Meyer said.

The Overlook has specific chefs for specific items. According to Lyons, there is a person to prepare the salads, a sandwich maker, a baker who bakes all the bread and cookies sold around campus and a sushi chef.

Lauren Huneycutt /Nevada Sagebrush “At the end of the night if there is still sushi left over, we just throw it away,” said Dylan Smith, Bytes employee

Lauren Huneycutt /Nevada Sagebrush
“At the end of the night if there is still sushi left over, we just throw it away,” said Dylan Smith, Bytes employee

“We get sushi delivered twice a day so it is as fresh as possible,” Lyons said. “We get it right before lunch time and again in the later afternoon, so it doesn’t sit for too long.”

Although the sushi is fresh, prepared on campus and relatively low-calorie, students trying to follow a raw or clean diet should note that the vinegar used in the sushi contains high fructose corn syrup, the wasabi contains different added dyes and the ginger is not simply ginger, but a list of ingredients.

“I realize not everything can be organic, but we need more options for those who do watch what they’re eating,” Gabrie said.

Nonetheless, Bytes and Elements have furthered their efforts to please students and are now carrying almond milk as a substitute to regular dairy milk for their beverages.

“It’s that saying ‘what the customer wants the customer gets,’” Lyons said. “We do our best to keep everyone happy.”

Lauren Huneycutt can be reached at