Guest Column by Adam Papin
Of all the departments on campus, perhaps none has garnered more criticism than Dining Services. It seems everyone is armed with an opinion on how Dining Services could better serve students.
It didn’t matter if it was the increased prices of meals, the closing of the Wildcat Den on weekends, the addition of Melted and the moving of Temaki & Tea, or the lack of service in the dining halls.
It’s only natural. Students have to eat and for those of us living on campus, most of what we eat comes from the Marketplace and the Den. It would just be nice if these criticisms better reflected reality. Dining Services goes out of their way to meet the needs of students and addresses those concerns with remarkable efficiency.
Early last semester, ASNMU co-hosted a Let’s Chat with Dining Services at the Den to discuss the changes that were implemented this year. Several weeks later, at the first Food Advisory Board meeting, director of Dining Services Greg Minner handed out sheets with each issue raised and how Dining Services was addressing each specific issue. A subsequent Let’s Chat at the Marketplace yielded similar results.
While opening the Den on weekends is not possible at this time, an alternative was developed that serves students well. Café Libri extended operations to the weekends and students can get made to order items from the grill. One can even use their meal plan to pay for it.
Additionally, Dining Services created the Food Advisory Board specifically designed to generate feedback and guidance from students on how to improve quality. The meetings happen once a month and are open to anyone concerned about the direction Dining Services is moving toward. All one needs to do to get involved is contact Dining Services to register. The next meeting is at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22 in the Dining Services Office.
One area of concern for students has been how long it takes for people to get food from the grill during busy periods. If a student wanted a cheeseburger or grilled chicken sandwich, they would have to wait 15 or 20 minutes before getting their order. If it was between classes, they wouldn’t have time to wait. If they were with friends, the friends would be finished eating by the time the student got their food.
This was brought to Dining Services’ attention and now the Den’s grill makes items ahead of time to better anticipate the rush. If a student still wants an item made to order, it can be made to order. All it took was Dining Services being made aware of the situation to fix it.
Another common refrain has to deal with Melted; “I don’t want to pay $5 or $6 for a grilled cheese.”
No one who has been to Melted has paid $5 for a grilled cheese. Those sandwiches are so much more. For example, one has barbecued pork and mac and cheese on it. Another has ham, mustard and baked apples. Overall, Melted is a creative, wonderfully executed concept for a restaurant that serves the campus community well.
Survey your friends at other schools and ask how many of them can take sushi-rolling classes. I would bet not many. Sure, it costs $10, but if you’re on a meal plan, you can pay for it with a meal swipe. Essentially, you’re getting in for free. Dining Services also hosts numerous workshops throughout the year on healthy eating.
Have an allergy? Bring it to the attention of any employee and they will be more than willing to address it. Just speak up.
Given the current state of the economy, rising food costs and less money to operate, Dining Services could be accused of trying to do too much to appease students rather than not enough.
The next time students have an issue with the food on campus, instead of casually complaining to your friends, why not take the time to work with Dining Services towards a solution?