New cafeteria

Staff of The Branch, Oklahoma Christian University’s new cafeteria, prioritize culinary arts as well as creating an caring atmosphere for students.

Oklahoma Christian University opened the doors to The Branch, a new cafeteria that they say elevates the quality of food served and features an all new menu in a space flooded with natural light. 

Students have anticipated the new dining offering.

“It’s always nice to have good food, but adding a view makes me want to come here earlier,” said sophomore Amelia Stanford. 

Typically, Stanford grabbed something for breakfast on her way to class. Today she ate eggs and veggies at a table with friends and waved to other classmates as they walked outside by the windows.

A freshman entering college, who graduates in four years, will eat about 2,880 meals during that time. Families rarely consider the quality of a campus cafeteria when selecting a university although nutrition affects each student’s health and academic performance. The important role of food in a university student’s life has been President of UDining Kurt Hermanson’s primary focus for 40 years.

“This new cafeteria sets the standard for culinary excellence in higher education,” Hermanson said. “Our staff interacts with students more than anyone else on campus. We see them multiple times a day and have opportunities to know them individually and impact their life. We serve high quality, nourishing food and create a space for them to develop community around a dining table.”

Hermanson launched fund raising in 2015, when he donated $1 million earmarked for the dining facility. Harry and Brenda Patterson, Richard and Pat Lawson, Mark and Beth Brewer, Benton and Paula Baugh, the Gaylord and Mabee foundations, and many other friends of the university made it possible to build the new kitchen and dining space without using any tuition revenue; however, a major gift from a former OC President and First Lady, Alfred and Judy Branch, inspired the name. 

‘The Branch’ continues a long history of generosity from the Branches to the university. The new name was revealed at a pre-opening dinner where Alfred Branch reflected on colleagues and mentors from whom he learned generosity.

“Giving is a blessing we should all experience and something I’m intentionally teaching my children. For us, it must be something important, something we can create a passion around and something that impacts the community and the kingdom of God,” Branch said.

OC worked with contractors and vendors who have a history with university building projects. GSB Architects designed the new space that was built by Smith and Pickel Construction. Ricca Designs planned the kitchen flow that is outfitted by Oswalt Restaurant Supply. The modern sitting arrangements came from Copeline’s Contract Furniture. Other key contributors include Basement Contractors and Newman Development.

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