A Town Hall meeting was held on Oct. 24 that focused on student concerns and ideas regarding the Dining Services at UR.

Director of Campus Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations Cam Schauf led the meeting, presenting those in attendance with a powerpoint presentation and leaving the discussion open to everyone who wanted to voice a concern. The powerpoint presentation encompassed what changes have already been implemented in Dining Services, as well as his visions for the future of campus dining.

Schauf continued on to discuss some general changes in dining. He talked about the fact that two new meal plans have been implemented for commuter students and mentioned that Dining Services has worked to expand the “grab and go” food options on campus.

In addition, the variety of options for vegans and vegetarians has been expanded. Schauf also brought up the fact that there has been a move toward incorporating local foods more widely in dining options – UR is now a member of the Pride of New York Program. This program works to use products from farmers in New York State.

After giving the general overview of such changes, Schauf moved on to the more specific changes that have been instated due to student complaints and/or suggestions.

These changes include new club options at Douglass Dining Center – burritos at Tortilla Fresca and wraps at the Salad Garden. Bagels and cereal, which are both club entre options, were reintroduced to the Pit, with the addition of a toaster. A 16-ounce cup of soup or chili is now an entre option, both 12-ounce cups of soup or chili and soy yogurt are side options and a 24-ounce drink can now be included in a club meal at the Pit. Club-only cash registers have also been added to decrease the waiting time in line, especially around lunch time.

In addition to changes in the food on campus, the dining centers themselves have undergone several changes. For one thing, the Creamery was removed from Hillside Caf due to lack of a sufficient amount of business, and a new carpet was installed there.

In Douglass, the Vegan Zone was added, the Salad Garden became self-serve and there is a new checkout line for club meals. The Pit now opens at 10:30 a.m., and Roc City Grill has replaced Grilleworks.

As for Danforth Dining Hall, a new menu has been implemented and the stir fry station is 100 percent gluten free. Also, the Pura Vida Caf has opened in the Robert B. Goergen Biomedical Engineering and Optics building.

Schauf made it clear that Dining Services tries its best to address student concerns, but it is not always so easy, due to monetary and staffing issues. He conveyed the fact that at the beginning of this school year, Dining Services was severely understaffed.

He said they currently have many new employees coming in all the time and that they are working on getting a well-trained core of employees that will be permanent.

Other concerns brought up at the meeting included the size of the yogurts – students feel that the four-ounce yogurts offered are too small – hopes that the Pit could be opened earlier and the cleanliness in Danforth. Schauf said all three issues could be looked into.

As far as the cleanliness issue in Danforth, the main concern was whether the silverware and dishes are being cleaned properly. Sophomore Dawn Batts spoke about her feelings on silverware that she has found to be unclean.

“It has been an ongoing problem; I am concerned about the spread of illness,” Batts said.

Schauf was very open to all concerns and encouraged all to share their opinions.

At the end of the meeting, Schauf shared his visions for the future of dining at UR. He hopes to first implement some structural changes in the Pit to create more space.

He then hopes to turn the attention of Dining Services to Danforth. There, Schauf wants to incorporate the food into the dining area so that food is prepared in front of students. The seating would also be rearranged and vegetarian options would be separated from non-vegetarian options.

The other major change to come is the opening of “Connections” next to the IT Center. It will be open for business by final exam time, and fully completed by January 2008. According to Schauf, there are imminent positive changes to come as long as students continue to voice their concerns.

“Student input makes a difference – we respond to student requests,” Schauf said.

Smith is a member of the class of 2011.

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