In an attempt to enhance the beverage services provided in the dining halls, Pomona College Dining Services has recently added an array of new beverage machines to Frank Dining Hall and Frary Dining Hall, including a Coca-Cola Freestyle, a touch-screen soda fountain in production since 2009.
Other recent beverage additions include Green Mountain Coffee cappuccino machines and Guayaki Yerba Mate dispensers in both dining halls, and an ICEE machine in Frank, with a second projected to arrive at Frary in the coming weeks.
According to General Manager of Dining Services Glenn Graziano, the introduction of the beverage machines constitutes part of an ongoing attempt to augment the beverage offerings on campus.
“We wanted to enhance our beverage program. It was a machine [the Coca-Cola Freestyle] that I had seen in my personal life and wanted to see in the dining hall,” Graziano said.
Graziano said that Dining Services had personally contacted Coca-Cola in order to obtain the machine as part of the beverage enhancement program.
“The machine itself was provided by Coca-Cola, who provide us with the product and free maintenance if a problem arises with the machine,” Graziano said.
Graziano said the Freestyle was provided free-of-charge by Coca-Cola. However, an article published by NBC News in 2012 claimed that the machines cost $320 per month to lease.
According to Graziano, the only physical labor costs required to maintain the machines are for cleaning and restocking.
The Coca-Cola Freestyle, which was installed in Frary April 8, can dispense up to 125 Coke products and flavors. The machine has since displaced the earlier beverage dispenser in Frary, leaving it the only source of soda and ice in the dining hall.
“We chose to have [the beverage dispenser] removed because we wanted to put an ICEE machine in,” Graziano said.
According to Assistant Director of Campus Services Margie McKenna, a potential decrease in bulk beverage prices also played a factor in the decision to reach out to Coca-Cola.
“Using the machine allows us to lower our price point and decrease the total cost of Coca-Cola beverages we buy,” McKenna said.
If a certain amount of Coca-Cola products are bought, the price point, or the overall cost for the purchase of beverages, decreases, McKenna explained. To help achieve this goal, Dining Services combined beverage purchases with the Coop Fountain in order to increase the total amount of beverage product bought.
The table tents advertising the Freestyle that appeared in Frary along with the machine were an optional addition, according to Graziano.
“The table tents were not obligatory. The company provided them, and I thought, ‘Why not put them out?’” Graziano said.
As of April 17, Dining Services had removed the table tents from Frary.
Because the machines have only been in use for under a month, Graziano and McKenna said they lacked concrete data showing the savings from the installment of the beverage machines.
“According to our number crunching, there should be some kind of savings that show up,” Graziano said.
The overall dining budget for the 2012-13 school year was about $6 million, with beverages constituting about $130,000 of that amount per semester, according to Bob Robinson, Assistant Vice President and Director of Facilities and Campus Services. About $100,000 of that is allocated to non-carbonated beverages and $30,000 to carbonated beverages each semester.
According to Pomona Vice President and Treasurer Karen Sisson, the actual expenditures of Dining Services will not be available until the report is compiled later in the semester. However, she expected that the $900,000 deficit would not be repeated.
“I’m not sure what the exact numbers are, but I don’t think we will be anywhere near the number from last year,” Sisson said.
Other dining halls at the 5Cs do not break the Dining Services budget into specific line items the way Pomona does.
“We do not break down the dining commons food budget into that level of detail. We could look at historical data of our actual purchases of beverages, but that is a time-consuming project,” said Miguel Ruvalcaba, General Manager of Hoch-Shanahan Dining Hall at Harvey Mudd College.
Hoch-Shanahan is managed by Sodexo, a food management company that also handled Pomona’s dining halls until 2011, when the college switched to a self-operated dining service.
The Guayaki Yerba Mate dispensers, the cappuccino machines, and the ICEE machines were all obtained in the same manner as the Freestyle. Graziano said that the companies each provided the dispensers free of charge as long as Dining Services continued to serve their products.