Some favorites are gone, but many new additions are present at the Fresh Food Company on the third floor of The DeNaples Center this year.
Dining Services has made several changes to food and the dining experience. Some changes are based on feedback and some are passed down from above.
Joseph Boyd, resident district manager of Dining Services at The University, said that the menu is designed based on the customer and is adapted to customer needs.
“I think [the new menu] is creative, and I think it’s an opportunity that enhances the program,” Boyd said.
All dining services at The University are owned and operated by Aramark. Aramark owns the Fresh Food Company, Bleecker Street, Hyland Café and various other food vendors on campus.
Aramark is a worldwide food and facilities management conglomerate working in food service in more than 600 institutions across North America. The company has also catered world-wide events such as the World Cup and the Olympics.
Many changes here at The University have been prompted through direction from Aramark. One change is the push toward a center-led menu: finding out what the customer wants and making it happen.
Everything seen in the dining hall is made right in front of guests’ eyes with the exception of small amounts of food preparation done on the fourth floor. There is no backhouse kitchen in the Fresh Food Company, which tries to live up to its name, making the freshness evident.
The University has been ranked No. 1 in customer satisfaction in the east region and No. 1 in the country for freshness in comparison to other Aramark campuses, Boyd said.
Some specific food changes from Aramark made company-wide, including the switch to off-brand cereal, have left students disgruntled.
“There’s knock-off cereal now; I don’t understand that. Everyone’s been saying that the portions are smaller [and] there’s not as much of a variety as there usually is,” junior Kate Foley said.
Other students are enjoying the changes, such as the added vegetarian-only station.
“I love it. There’s always a vegetarian option so I don’t have to walk around checking ingredients making sure there’s not meat in [what I want]. I know there’s always going to be something [for me], which is great,” Stash said.
The largest change in food service this year is the center-led menu, which means the day-to-day menu is not passed down from corporate headquarters, but instead is based on feedback from students and other clientele, who influence what dishes are served and when they are served.
For example, earlier in the year the lack of chicken nuggets upset many students. After feedback, however, dining services brought back last year’s schedule for chicken nuggets.
This kind of feedback is what Boyd wants from students.
“Comment cards are great, but I’d rather talk to you immediately. I don’t like to let things wait. I [like] to make sure the customer is taken care of and increase satisfaction,” Boyd said.
The Dining Services management team is comprised of 11 managers for all food services on campus. Diners have the option to leave comment cards, located on corkboards outside the dining area. Each comment card is reviewed by all the managers and responded to, then placed back up on the board with a response attached.
Dining Services is also working on fulfilling the promise made last semester to post Fresh Food Company daily menus online. Boyd said that it is a work in progress that they hope to complete soon, but they have run into some technical snags.
The extra 200 first-year students is another challenge for dining services, creating longer lines and logistical headaches.
“It’s been busy,” Boyd said.
The Fresh Food Company welcomed 2,100 people for brunch Saturday during Family Weekend.
The space is equipped with just over 700 chairs, and Boyd said recently lunches and dinners are being served to more than 1,800 people on average each weekday.
Overcrowding is not only an issue at the Fresh Food Company but in other dining locations as well, including the Hyland Café in Hyland Hall.
Hyland Café does not accept meal swipes, Boyd said, because the small made-to-order sandwich shop would be overwhelmed.
Boyd said Dining Services is considering closing Hyland Cafe once an Einstein Bros. Bagels opens in the new rehabilitation center across the street.
“We don’t know if the campus can support two places open,” Boyd said.
Boyd said Dining Services is embracing the new customer-led policy.
“We want to enhance the food and dining experience,” Boyd said to summarize the changes in Dining Services.