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9/17/2013 2:24:00 PM
Figuring out the food at Camp Howard
Catholic Sentinel photos by Ed Langlois
Campers dig in for lunch at Camp Howard during family camp.
Catholic Sentinel photos by Ed Langlois
Campers dig in for lunch at Camp Howard during family camp.

Parents are surprised to hear how much their campers enjoy the food at camp.  Generally, camp food is not known to be very good. Not true at Camp Howard, thanks to the old time cooks. Cheesy rolls, pulled pork sandwiches, scones, lasagna and pizza are some of the specialties cooked each week during summer camp. With a record setting number of campers at Camp Howard this summer, the food preparation is tricky and important.

Karen von Borstel, facility manager at camp, operates the kitchen and works with the kitchen staff in preparing menus, ordering and picking up food each week. Head cook is Fran Somann and lead cooks are Laura Green, Valerie Davis, Kathi Lively, Leila Blakely, Fred Green, Ron Hungate and Melissa Gergen. They turn out the food the kids love to eat each day and they do it with a lot of pride.

The cooks are one of the most appreciated groups at the camp. They do have the most demanding job, standing eight hours a day in a warm kitchen. The appreciation makes the job rewarding.

Von Borstel and Soman sit down each week to determine the menu and food needs. The massive grocery order is faxed to Cash and Carry on Monday of the week. The groceries go on pallets at the store and made ready for pick up on Friday morning.  Back at camp, the supplies are unloaded on the dock and put away — all ready for the campers who arrive on Sunday afternoons.

One thing staff can depend on at camp: the kids will be hungry about every four or five hours. The dining hall holds 220. Usually, more than 300 people need to be fed.  Overflow diners are served in Champions Hall and in new outdoor tents purchased with Champions of Faith money for the 2013 camping season.

This summer, staff served more than 23,000 meals — and washed the dishes.

The kitchen is mostly outfitted to handle the crowds. However, the walk-in refrigerator and freezer are too small for the volume. Kitchen staff could use twice or three times the space, which would reduce the number of trips to the grocery store.  

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