A Town Hall meeting yesterday allowed students to share feedback on Dining Services on River Campus. At the meeting, three Dining administrators spoke with students about the plans for a Wilson Commons renovation and other improvements in Dining.

The meeting focused mainly on the Pit, Douglass Dining Center and Danforth Dining Center. However, Hillside Caf, Pura Vida Caf and Connections Caf were brought up several times over the course of the meeting. Director of Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations Cam Schauf stated that the three aspects that Dining focused on were to improve the freshness of the food, improve customer service and speed up the lines in the dining centers.

‘Being that you only spend four years at the University, we did not focus on what can be improved on in 20 years but our thought was how do we make a difference today,” Schauf said. A few years ago, UR allied with ARAMARK Corporation and, from this relationship, the River Campus has been able to receive fresher fruits and vegetables from more local farmers.

‘We purchase good-quality stuff,” Schauf said, as he listed the new improvements.

There have been several other improvements in Dining this year. New sustainable features, such as the new coffee mugs that are now made of corn plastic and a new mug refill program, have been implemented. There are also new dinner options in both Danforth and the Pit.

Students had the opportunity to voice their opinions when it came to how long the dining centers should be open, what they thought about the variety of the food, the quality of the grab-and-go options and also what they thought of the overall ambiance of each center, including the behavior of the employees. Some popular opinions concerning the dining hours were that students believed that Hillside should always be open until 2 a.m. and that there should be a store that is open for 24 hours because students are known to pull all-nighters. Also, the location of the store should be centralized, possibly close to the libraries so that students can grab food after the libraries close. One attendant suggested that breakfast hours at the Pit should be extended so that students who come from morning classes can eat after they return.

In the area of customer-employee relationships, there were mixed feelings. Some of the dining staff were reported as very friendly and good at remembering the names of the students they serve. Another student chimed in by stating that the workers as a whole are always very amiable and receptive to the students. One common opinion though, is that Douglass’ service is not up to par with the expectations of the students.

Overall, most of the audience agreed that if the managers are caring, supportive and encouraging, then the staff appears to have a very positive attitude as well. One student mentioned that there should be an employee appreciation week, and several members in the audience agreed.

According to a poll presented during the meeting, 37 percent of the student body believed that there should be more vegetarian options and they considered it to be a very important issue. Fifty-three percent of students expressed a desire for more ethnic food on campus such as Chinese and Mexican food, and 44 percent of students wanted the Chinese option open regularly.

Tim MacTurk, the resident district manager, showed the students present at the meeting the new renovations that will be taking place in Wilson Commons over the summer. They include the grand opening of a new Chinese and Mexican food option that will most likely be Clubbable and available just as often as the other current options.

Additionally, Blimpie will probably relocate to the Hive. Since the Pit is the dining center that students usually go to in between classes when they are under time constraints, the pizza station will be adding more ovens and will move to a more convenient location. Also, registers will be situated so that they do not disrupt the flow of the lines.

‘We love working with students,” Schauf said. ‘Their involvement helps to breed the excitement.”

Junior Kierstin Hughes said that she was very excited about the renovations and added, ‘I am glad that Dining is so receptive to student opinions.”

The SA is simultaneously organizing another forum for students to discuss Dining. On Sunday, the SA assembled its first student Meal Plan Focus Group, where several students representing diverse food interests gathered to anonymously appraise meal plans at UR.

Mostly, students at the meeting cited their frustration at limited Clubbable options and the superfluous Clubs in their meal plans. The conclusions drawn from this feedback were reported to the SA Senate at Monday night’s meeting.

Hasan is a member of the class of 2012.

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