by Bella Schulte, staff writer

In addition to changing the name of the college, PPSC is making changes all around — one of them being the café. After seven years with the foodservice company Paragon, PPSC’s cafes have been taken over by a new company, Southwest Foodservice Excellence (SFE).

According to a café employee, the downfall of Paragon was COVID-19 and the lack of business the café was getting during 2020-2022, so the contract was taken over by SFE.

SFE is a K-12 foodservice company whose mission from their website is to “‘Put child nutrition first’ by building financially healthy K-12 foodservice partnerships.” By partnering with PPSC, SFE has expanded to the collegiate level for the first time.

Kevin Gutierrez, director of Client Success at SFE, says, “with a commitment to improving retention, student success and graduation rates, Pikes Peak’s overarching goals align very closely with SFE’s commitment to our partners…we recognized that Pikes Peak was aiming to achieve these important goals. SFE knew we could help.”

Gutierrez also says that the importance of a well-nourished student goes beyond K-12 and to spread that message to colleges was the next step for SFE.

The takeover was quick with new SFE staff and protocols only arriving to PPSC four days before school started. There wasn’t much time for new and returning staff to learn the new menu. Since then, things have settled, and staff has adapted to the new environment with a learning curve for everyone. For example, Patrick Reitmayer, general manager and executive chef of the cafes says that before PPSC, SFE did not have a cash handling protocol since it is not needed in K-12 schools and has since developed one.

The partnership between SFE and PPSC is actively laying the foundation for how SFE will work with other colleges in the future.

As for PPSC, Gutierrez says there are plans in the works for improving the cafes by providing more options for people with dietary restrictions and expanding the cafes equipment and space. New digital menus will be implemented soon so that menu changes can happen based on the popularity of items and availability of locally sourced foods. The Starbucks at Centennial has now been opened, and SFE plans to add Starbucks to the Rampart and Downtown campuses as well.

Along with the Starbucks, the Downtown campus will have a grab n’ go set up to provide students with an on-campus option for food.

For culinary students (or anyone interested), there are jobs and work study opportunities available. Reitmayer says that it is a great opportunity for students to learn the basics of working in a kitchen and gaining some experience.

Make sure to look out for upcoming events such as BBQ’s outside of Rampart and Centennial. With Reitmayer’s goal of staying “focused on service and taking care of [PPSC] students,” more community events are an exciting initiative to see.

Photo credit: Bella Shulte

SFE sets up outside of Rampart. Photo credit: Bella Schulte