Dining Services, in partnership with Aramark, has made great improvements in response to student concerns, most notably by providing greater flexibility for the club meal plan. While these changes improve options of where to eat, they understate the need for fresh, nutritious food.

Aramark, contracted by UR, orders food in mass quantities from wholesale suppliers. In addition to providing support to area businesses, buying from local farmers and food brokers cuts environmental and economic costs of shipping. Locally grown food equates to fresher, better-tasting meals while also being socially responsible to the surrounding community. Several universities have been able to work with their contractors to allocate large percentages – almost 40 percent at the University of Portland – to buy food from area dealers and distributors. Dining Services can become a more sustainable operation by balancing funds between local and nationwide food merchants.

However, these efforts are wasted when fresh food is prepared in an unhealthy manner. In order to appease students, many food options are made to order and quickly prepared. Meals made in this fashion are largely unhealthy. Nonetheless, students who choose healthier options, such as omelets and chicken sandwiches, are disappointed to find them smothered in grease. Healthier cooking policies need to be explored and implemented.

While Dining Services can make these beneficial changes, students can make better informed decisions about their diet if given nutritional information. These statistics needs to be readily available – if not at the location, easily located on the dining Web site. This portion of the Web site should also include daily menus and ingredients.

Although students will never be content, Dining Services and Aramark have put great effort toward taking student concerns into account. However, food service is a facet of campus life that always merits improvement.

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