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Creating cube-side dining diversity

Posted on: July 5th, 2013 by Taryn Jeffries 2 Comments

Some of you may know, I spend my daylight hours at a large company entrenched in facts, figures, expense reports and on occasion am annoyed by v-lookups. While my left brain job rarely spills over to my right brained job, recently my right brain job has taken up a lot of real estate in my left brain job.

It all started with a Teammate Satisfaction Survey that my company sent out and the results showed that not too many people were very satisfied. From there a committee was born, and with me as one of the members, we worked to figure out cost effective and creative ways to build a stronger sense of community and boosts in morale. One idea that came up was Cooking with Finance. Once a month a specific department in Finance is responsible for hosting an amped up potluck. Each team is given a specific budget to order a main dish, usually centered around a theme of their choosing, and then supplemental dishes are provided by the that month’s team members. A competition aspect is always present, the focus of which is determined by the host team as well. We started out with some raised eyebrows and the negative comment here and there, but we are gearing up for our second year of the events and I have to say, for the most part I think we have been very successful. Like I said, we are a fairly large company, with over 400 people in our building alone, and you can walk by someone in the hall and have no clue what they do there. The lunches have enabled more visibility for the host teams and with the meals being interactive, I think it has lent itself for people becoming more familiar with co-workers and their roles in the company. It’s also been really exciting to see the creativity that fellow teammates hold – the creativity of some of the lunch and competition themes have been really entertaining. With prizes being awarded for the competition portion of the lunch, we typically have a good amount of participation.

Not one to leave well enough alone, I started to think about how to make things even better. A free lunch once a month, healthy competition and getting to interact with more co-workers is great, but I knew I could do something more. Our break-room is lined with vending machines on one wall, plenty of tables, two refrigerators and a freezer. While we are surrounded by several great dining spots, as soon as the temperatures start to rise the idea of going out to fetch lunch becomes more of a chore than a treat. So, the logical solution was to bring the lunch vendors to us. I was able to establish relationships with five food vendors to come in once a week and sell fresh and fast lunches. So far the program has been in place for two months and has been very successful. Sure, there are a few people that say they don’t like this or that food, but as the saying goes – you can’t please all of the people all of the time. To date, I have procured Alice’s Cuisine, Tzikii Pita Grill, Goodcents Deli Fresh Subs, Macayos and our sister building’s Cafe. My company’s biggest expense in this feature was the cost of two island-type carts the vendors use for presenting and serving their food. The vendors get a captive audience to sell their meals to, and we get fresh, fast and healthy lunch options. It’s a no-brainer!

I wanted to share this information with you not to brag, but to prove that opportunities exist within any company, large or small, to create healthier options than a questionable chicken sandwich or microwaveable burrito in your company’s break room. There are a myriad of ways to bring co-workers together over alternative dining and team-building options. Interested in starting a similar program at your place of work? Let me know and I would be more than happy to share how I made it happen.

About the Author - Taryn Jeffries

Editor and Chief Eating Officer of PhoenixBites, 2017 Food Writer of the Year (Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame) Taryn grew up in a small town in Illinois with a doting Grandmother who taught her the way around a kitchen and that food is representative of love. Her current quest is to find the love in local dishes and the chefs behind them. In addition to running all things PhoenixBites, Taryn is also a freelance writer, sharing her insight on the best dishes and where to get them each and every month.

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2 Responses

  1. Brilliant ideas, both the monthly lunch, and the updated break room offerings!

  2. Christina says:

    Good for you, Taryn! NEVER leave “well-enough” alone-it can always be better! 🙂

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