Regional Food

Recently we were finalizing the arrangements for our transportation to our regional and it sparked a discussion about last years NJ regional. One concern was shared by all FOOD. I remember threads complaining about it last year this year I would much rather that we have a plan.

Did anyone who attended a regional with bad/overpriced food find viable solutions for this year?

For the 2004 competitions, the TechnoKat support staff (teachers, parents, mentors) provided box lunches with sandwiches, fruit/vegetables, snacks, soft drinks, etc. Tailgating in the parking lot was popular as well.

@ Florida: parking lots with coolers were a viable option for some teams…or just driving down Alafaya (or however you spell it) to find something decent priced.

Just be aware of your Regional’s rules concerning eating in the parking lot. If I recall correctly, you were not allowed to bring food onto the premises nor eat in in the parking lots at the NJ venue. That created a problem, since the quality and price of the venue’s food left much to be desired, and since we had limited options for food within walking distance of the venue.

I remember Palmetto’s prices being a bit steep for my liking (although the folks there were nice), so a lot of folks went to the Wendy’s up the hill, or to further off places like Sandy’s hot dogs (they’re local). For a bigger hike but a big variety, there’s always the Russell House University Union.

I’m thinking as Palmetto draws closer, I’ll try and cook up (pun intended) a guide to surviving the USC campus. If I knew then what I knew now about that area, I’d have been eating like a KING!

Those were the rules of NJ regional last year which is why we are having this dilemma. What did your team do? All of the restaurants within walking distance were either clogged or left a great deal to be desired. In this situation we have run out of ideas that follow the form of Gracious professionalism. Eating on the bus is most likely possible but it is still wrong?

The SBPLI regional is being held at a new location this year, and I expect the food services to be different as well (I’m assuming Hofstra, like many other schools, has a deal with a single catering company that will handle all on campus events).

For any regional though, if there’s really that much of a problem with the food, do yourself a favor. Before you leave home (or your hotel), make yourself a sandwich, put in a plastic bag, and put it in a pocket. No one will stop you, because last time I checked, they’re not doing body searches at regionals. It’s kind of like bringing candy into a movie theater, everyone does it, and no one ever gets caught. Honestly, if the food is so overpriced, I have no qualms about sneaking my own food in.

We got food delivered to our bus in the parking lot. It was great because we had the match right after the lunch break, and most of the team was out at the bus eating, except for a few people left in the pits. Well i guess we got behind schedule, because Matt (our human player) called us when they called our team to get queued, so me and 2 other drivers had to run back through the parking lot, across the street, and around the arena to get back to the match.

One tip I have for food is: know when it’s avaliable.

I remember many times at the Granite State Regional I would walk up to a food vending window only to find that they were either closed or no longer surving lunch items. Find out what their schedule is- because the one you assume will probably be wrong.

The other complaint/tip is: Be prepared to spend a long time waiting in line for food. During lunch the venue may or may not open up additional windows. Plan at least 20 minutes just to get your food.

Okay, I’ll admit it, we cheated and had food delivered to our bus in the parking lot also.While I understand the dilemma that FIRST regional organizers are in, bound to the rules of the venue, it does create a hardship for the teams who are stuck there for three long days in a row.
And when you have food allergies on the team and none of the food vendors can tell you if their food contains those items, then it becomes even more difficult!

us too were to POOR to eat inside the place

I was surprised quite a bit last year at the Pittsburgh Regional. I thought that the food I ate there was reasonably priced and it was pretty good food. There was a decent selection as well, but their pizza was by far the most popular item. As far as finding time to eat, that was another story…

Thank goodness someone brought up this issue. Food is always important.

As a faily strict vegetarian (yes, eggs and milk and cheese products, no fish chicken or beef, etc), I had some major problems with the food choice. We have a few students on our team if I recall correctly that have religious food limitations, which makes most meats and especially pork or beef for some a problem. However, there are a few big things that are fairly easy to do…

  1. If you have frequented a regional for a significant amount of time, you probably know where the local stuff is. If you havne’t gone there yet, do your research! Many regionals are close to a campus, which means a fairly convenient food supply may be within 10/15 minutes walk. This isn’t just mentors, students, if you have a specific food preference, remember that your team is responsible for you and generally can’t let you go wandering. I know the rule on 461 is that you must have a mentor with you if you are leaving the competition premises to go eat and whatnot. I recommend Google for your searching.

  2. Look for places that have lots of options. Cafeterias are great because they’re geared towards large numbers of people anyway. If you know you’ll have dinner at a certain time before you go to your hotel, check to make sure that there is food nearby that your entire team can go to.

  3. Ian W. is a genius. I have never brought an entire sandwich with me to carry around, but that is a good idea. Know what you’re eating, because some food won’t give you much energy to run around and jump up and down with. You use a huge amount of energy at competitions, and your body really isn’t invincible. Water water water, and food food food are important aspects.

  4. Think realistically above all things. Nats took place in a Stadium. The concession is geared towards stadium style dining. What are you expecting at a football/basketball game, etc? Fans have different needs than robotics geeks do, but the concession staff cannot regear their entire menu for us for just a weekend. If they do, they’re virtually amazing. More than likely, the regional committe (a good resource) can give you lots of helpful recommendations about food.

Good luck! And happy eating!

  • Genia

Haha, and I thought just bringing a “brown bag lunch” was the obvious solution. Suppose I actually did learn something in those four years of high school…

As a quick addition to my thought above, if any of your team members do have food restrictions (medical, religious, personal, doesn’t matter), I believe they will have to let you bring your own food in, or at least provide you with a place to eat your own food (if you don’t feel like being sneaky).

I remember the first time I went to a regional it was SBPLI in 2002. I had no idea what to expect, so I emptied out my backpack, and filled it with various food, a sandwich, snacks, all kinds of good, yummy things that I could eat with one hand and wouldn’t make a mess, so that way I could at least do something productive (like cleaning the pit) while eating. Some tips for quick and easy snacks, trail mix, dried fruit, m&m’s, and granola bars. Don’t bring in anything that will be remotely messy (like a juicy plum, that won’t mix well with robots), but anything else should be ok.

I have to admit, I’ve since gotten lazy, and usually just buy food at the competition (or walk around outside and find food), but I usually try to have at least some sort of snack around, somehow that makes completely rebuilding the robot slightly more bareable.

The Chesapeake Regional at the Naval Academy will allow you to bring your own food into Halsey Field House. We ask that you do NOT eat in the arena and stands, but you are allowed to eat in the pit area. There were teams last year that ran efficient lunch assembly lines to feed their entire team. There will be a small snack stand on site, and there are other places to walk to on the grounds and right down at the harbor for those who can leave, 5-10 minutes away.There were some complaints last year that no breakfast was provided on site. The solution is to bring it with you.
Tailgating is difficult though. Although team buses will be allowed to drop off gear and people, there will be no parking at the Academy, only at the Stadium offsite. More details on the Chesapeake threads to come.

I don’t know how close you live to your regional, so this may be advice that doesn’t apply to you, but we live about two hours from the Colorado regional, so last year we worked with teams that were actually in the area to put out a guide to, among other things, nearby places to buy and eat food. There may be some local places you don’t know about, so maybe try contacting a team that lives in the area. If nothing else, they may know the location of a nearby park or something that you can use if you don’t want to violate any rules.

Good luck! That can really make a regional a bummer. :frowning:

While they don’t do body searches, I was asked by security to leave the NH Regional because they found me eating a sandwich that I didn’t buy there (they told me to come back when I was done eating).

I’ll make sure to not bring food to that one then, or if I do to leave it someone’s car outside ;-).

Well, looks like this question is answered.

2005 Manual 7.4 “At the Event” (pg. 4)

Food: You cannot bring food on site……at all. Not even as a promotion. Do not provide teams with candy, water, fruit, soft drinks, etc. This is to promote good will and the spirit of partnership with the venues.

As much as “rules are rules” i find it ridiculous if i have to buy a $3.00 bottled water when i drink anywhere from 3-5 20oz bottles of water per day, and i will most likely more at the regionals from walking around all day, talking, communicating, yelling (during matches), and etc. Thats about 9-15+ dollars, for 3 days, thats up to $45 just for WATER!!! freaking water. Food i can completely understand, but to have your water confiscated is just ridiculous, and as much as i respect FIRST for having respect for their venues which we ALL should, i think water is the line that does not need to be crossed.