Partnering with Campus Auxiliary Services, Student Association held forums in order to address the student criticism of CAS practices beginning in early February. These forums were maintained in order to create a platform for CAS to address issues that were raised on social media rather than complaints brought straight to management. Despite a relatively low student turn out—approximately 22 students, according to SA Director of Inter-Residence Affairs and forum moderator senior Tyler Sherman—the forums were apparently successful in initiating changes.
The biggest changes brought about by the forums are healthier “grab-and-go” options, increased value offerings and bundles, a renewed focus on “Priority #1” for employees, the establishment of a new position—operations excellence specialist—more off-campus meal plan offerings and a re-established student advisory board.
The changes that CAS is making regarding food and food choice are expanding by the creation of healthier foods for the “grab-and-go” and “heat-and-eat” options. The other food-related target is to bring value offers and bundles to the forefront.
“A question parents often ask me during orientation is if the meal plan will last the student through the year. The way our meal plan is set up ensures it will,” CAS marketing manager Becky Stewart ‘04 said. “There aren’t limits on the time when you can use your meal plan or any on-campus restaurant restrictions, so it really falls on the students to budget their money. We hope bringing the value offers and bundles at Southside Café and Max Market will help students do just that.”
To address the concerns of students who fear the food may be ill prepared, CAS has renewed a focus on what they call “Priority #1.” Priority #1 is the duty that CAS has to “provide safe food for every occasion.” It is posted on fliers and posters all over CAS kitchens in order to ensure that neither full time workers, nor part-time students, forget it.
The position of Operations Excellence Specialist has been created to ensure that the food is prepared safely and procedures are followed correctly. While the position is a new one, it does not use new money. Instead, the money the person occupying the position will make was at one time allotted for different positions.
“One complaint we received at the forum was about the off-campus meal plans CAS offers,” Stewart said. “The off-campus express meal plan—our lowest offer—is about $250. One student felt that was too much, so we’re looking to create newer options with that one being the midpoint.”
In order to get pertinent feedback more quickly, CAS and the Inter-Residence Council are preparing to re-establish a student advisory board that will have student representatives—from each residence hall and a representative of off-campus students—giving CAS feedback.
“When one-fourth of your customers leave every year and a new group comes in with different tastes, feedback is very important,” Stewart said.
“When I asked how many meals CAS serves Monday through Friday, they said it was around 9,000 and there are only five–10 issues a day. I really think that speaks to the efficiency of CAS, but if you have an issue, confront them about it,” Sherman added. “It may be uncomfortable, but that’s the only way it’s going to change.”