Dining at the Home Economics Cafeteria

From 1929 through 1982, the institution now known as UNCG hosted a unique and popular campus resource that served not only as a teaching laboratory but as a meeting and dining space for people across the University. The Home Economics Cafeteria allowed students in the School of Home Economics an opportunity to learn about “the scientific and artistic principles of cookery as they apply to quantity food production and service in a real situation.”

Home Economics Cafeteria, 1951

Located in Home Economics (now Stone) Building, the cafeteria focused on providing lunch, initially only three days a week and then on all five weekdays. Beginning in 1973, the cafeteria also offered a 45-minute “coffee break” from 9:30-10:15 “to help brighten your morning.” Students worked with a number of full-time employees to ensure that a variety of healthy meals were prepared in sanitary conditions.

Menus from the cafeteria demonstrate the wide range of foods prepared by the students and staff. Students in 1941 served a variety of soups as part of their work to assist in the revision of Army and Navy cookbooks. Often, the student cafeteria managers would select themes for the week’s menu, and plan accordingly by researching and selecting appropriate recipes and soliciting comments for future planning.

The week of September 16-20, 1974, was deemed “International Week” in the Home Economics Cafeteria. Each day of the week featured food from a different culture. Monday was “German Day,” and included red cabbage, sauerbraten, and reuben sandwiches. Tuesday was a celebration of Jewish New Year, and included potato soup, lox, and bagels. Italian cuisine was featured on Wednesday with lasagne, minestrone stoup, and garlic bread. “French Day” was Thursday, and included French onion soup, beef bourguignon, and broccoli almandine. And, finally, on Friday, the cafeteria returned to “American Day,” with fried chicken, cornbread, and, of course, “Mom’s apple pie.”

Stone (previously Home Economics) Building

The cafeteria proved a success as a meeting place for University faculty members. Charles Adams, the head librarian at UNCG, noted that the cafeteria’s “very friendly and open atmosphere makes it a good place to visit with colleagues.” Augustine La Rochelle, a professor of Romance languages, declared “it’s the best food in the city!”

In spite of its success, the cafeteria ceased operations on Wednesday, December 8, 1982, due to the increasing costs of operation. Much equipment was obsolete or in need of major repair, and administrators felt the cafeteria “no longer provided an up-to-date, relevant educational experience.” Dr. Jacqueline Voss, dean of the School of Home Economics, stated that “we all recognize the significant role the cafeteria has played on campus. It has provided over the years a place where faculty and staff members from across the campus and from different disciplines could gather and talk and get to know one another. However, given the current restraints under which we are currently operating, it is no longer feasible for us to maintain the operation of the cafeteria.”

By Erin Lawrimore

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