Changes in the Dining Service are still unknown

Maria Fernanda Rubi

Some weeks ago, the Student Government Association (SGA) sent a google form to the student body asking their opinion regarding possible changes in the Westerlin Market (C-Store) hours and adding more food options to the dining hall menu.
While the student well-being committee is running the project to improve the dining hall’s food quality, the rotating committee is currently overseeing any changes regarding the expansion of the C-Store hours.
Isabelle Jordan, part of the student well-being committee, says students have reached out to SGA to talk about possibly adding different options to the dining hall menu. “This year with the salad bar, some vegetables are rotten at times, and the protein options have been more limited than previous years, and so students with dietary restrictions have come to us looking for a solution,” Jordan said.
According to Vanessa Silva, sophomore SGA senator and chairman for the rotating committee, the survey they recently sent has helped senators understand better if students believe changes in the dining services should happen.
“The survey gave us a lot of feedback… We got 600 students in favor of changes to occur, so we are going to fight for it,” Silva said.
First-year Laurence Pavlik is the Seminary Hall representative and part of the student well-being committee. Currently, he is directly involved in improving food quality and its availability to vegetarians and students with other dietary restrictions.
“We are following the same steps taken when we seek a solution that has to do with different facilities or services on campus,” Pavlik said. The first step is having direct contact with the students affected by the issue. “I already interviewed students who have dietary restrictions so we could have an idea of their problems and what to do about them; later, we put it [the information] into a letter,” Pavlik said.
Currently, SGA is in the process of communicating with the administration. “We don’t want to have miscommunication, so the work I am doing is being reviewed by the rest of the committee and the executive board to make sure the tone is correct,” Pavlik said.
Fred Kurt, director of dining hall services, says the administration hasn’t considered changes regarding the C-Store hours as some complications can occur.
During spring, it is more challenging to get employees. “If we expand hours, we wouldn’t have enough staff to cover additional hours, and during this time of the year, it is hard to hire… we have probably more students that are leaving employment with us,” Kurt said.
Additionally, the C-Store does not have a high stocking level for products. “I don’t know how many transactions would take place, but currently, it is really difficult to keep the stocking levels throughout the day with the number of transactions happening… Typically there are 800 transactions between 2 pm and closing time, and the C-Store does not have space for high volume stock,” Kurt said.
Recently, the dining hall department also sent a satisfaction survey to the student body, and its results contradicted the google form sent by SGA.
Due to the positive feedback students gave to the current dining services, possible changes would occur during the Fall of 2021. “Any changes to hours would happen until next year as in my most recent customer satisfaction survey, 85% of the students indicated that hours were favorable… it would be nice to please everybody, but 15% is part of the smaller group,” Kurt said.
Kurt shared other results. “Overall, when it talks about the variety of options of the dining center, basically 80% approval ratings there… healthy options was 79%, and the overall quality was 82%,” Kurt said.
Despite possibly not seeing any considerable difference this year, the dining hall food is constantly rotating according to food demand.
“If you see a lot of a particular menu item going back to the dish room well, they probably don’t like it, so you make sure we can make changes quicker than wait until the next semester,” Kurt said.
For SGA, communicating students’ opinions to administration is meaningful for the long-term. “We may not see any changes this year as they take time, but hopefully, they [administrators] know students seek some improvement,” Jordan said. “Incremental change is better than no change at all.”