What’s for dinner? Dining Services asks for comments
By Nina Schwinghammer
Sun Star Contributor
Most people on campus have eaten the food here. Whether it was pizza, sushi, sandwiches or noodles, everyone has an opinion. Last week, Dining Services held a series of forums to get student input on campus food.
Students talked about what they liked and didn’t like about dining on campus while eating free food provided at each forum. Senior Will Newberry said later that he was happy with the forum. “I was really impressed with dining services and the ideas for improvement,” he said. “The Taco Bell is horrible for you, but I’m glad there’s a Subway.”
According to Robert Holden, director of Auxiliary and Business Services, the point of the forums was to ask questions that generated real responses from students. “Our contractor, NANA, has been working with us to get balance and not a one-sided approach,” he said. “We’ve tried to have questions that are honest and open, to get honest feedback.”
Throughout the meetings Holden and Kathy Hawkins, NANA’s director of marketing, asked students questions about food and quality, and took notes on their responses. “We still have the same dining services that we had when I lived in Moore Hall,” said Holden. “There has always been a negative impression of the Lola Tilly Commons, I ate there 30 years ago and the impression is still the same.” The Commons can serve around 600-1000 students at a time. Some changes to meal plan options have already taken place and students can get the unlimited option, which allows for unlimited visits to the commons to avoid unnecessary gorging.
Holden said he is working to change how students feel about dining on campus.
When students returned from Winter Break, there were a few changes to lower campus dining options. Sushi was moved to a more prominent location in Wood Center (Students commented favorably on the change. Holden said sales doubled.) and smoothies were added to the sandwich area. A sign advertises that “UniversiTea” will be coming soon to the same location. A coffee cart was also added at the Rasmuson library.
Expanding the list of restaurants off campus that accept bear bucks is another of Holden’s projects. The Oasis, Wolf Run, The Cookie Jar and River City Café and Expresso also accept bear bucks loaded on a student’s polar express card. Boston’s and Lulu’s Bread and Bagels plan to sign on shortly.
Even though dining services is making big steps to improve eating on campus, making change takes time, said Holden. “Getting sushi on campus took three years, but you can’t stay stagnant because if you do, everything passes you by, we are trying to keep up with what people are looking for.”