Atherton Union, where Butler’s main dining hall on campus can be found. Collegian file photo.
MEGHAN STRATTON | CO-NEWS EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
On Aug. 24, Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Ross announced a series of immediate and future changes to Butler’s dining program.
These changes include extended hours of operation and additional menu options for all dining facilities on campus — Atherton, ResCo and C-Club. Ross and Envision Strategies, a national expert in campus foodservice consulting, also came up with a plan to find a new dining service provider and reassess student meal plans in the future.
For the past 20 years, Butler’s food service provider has been Aramark Corporation. Butler has also kept the same meal plan for the past 14 years. When Ross was hired at the beginning of last year, this struck him as something to look into.
“When you come in as a new administrator, I think it’s important to take a step back and really take a look at all the programs and services that we offer, and try to get a sense of what opportunities for improvement we have,” Ross told The Butler Collegian. “Your meal plan is something you should always be looking at to be sure that it’s meeting the needs of the students, and whether or not you’re providing kinds of things that the students want and need.“
Last spring, Ross and Student Affairs decided to partner with Envision Strategies to conduct dining focus groups and a campus wide dining survey. After nearly 1,000 responses to the survey, data revealed the two main student concerns were quality of food and hours of operation.
“The survey data overwhelming showed that students chose Atherton dining because they had a meal plan and location convenience, but it wasn’t because of the quality of the food, the selection or the value,” Ross said. “So it’s basically like, ‘I live here and I eat here, but otherwise I wouldn’t.’”
Student concerns also arose when the Collegian published an article last April featuring bugs in Atherton broccoli. In response to this article, dining services announced they would re-wash all prewashed food and add several healthier options.
The recent changes significantly expand upon those initial promises. New Atherton-specific healthy options include an expanded salad bar, the addition of organic drinks and more vegan entree options.
“College is a time that can be very stressful and anxiety provoking, and we know that the importance of student well-being plays into their success,” Ross said. “And if we’re not giving you the appropriate nutrition you need, how can we expect you to be successful? I want students to be successful. I want them to thrive at Butler.”
Ross also indicated that Dawg Bucks could soon be in wider use around other on-campus eateries starting next week.
“To provide even more dining options for Butler students, we have engaged with other eateries on campus such as Metro Diner, Scotty’s Dawghouse and the Café at South Campus to allow Butler students to use their Dawg Bucks for food purchases,” the statement read.
Aramark will continue to serve Butler for the 2018-19 academic year. This October, Ross and Envision Strategies will launch a Request for Proposals for a new dining service provider. Aramark has indicated their intention to submit a proposal, allowing them to possibly retain a contract with Butler if selected.
Ross said he hopes to identify the new dining partner by February 2019, and the new provider would begin service for the 2019-20 academic year.
The Butler Collegian will continue to follow this story and provide any new updates as more information becomes available.
You can follow Meghan on Twitter at @meghan_stratton.