By: Adam Slemp
Sodexo Focus Group held a meeting on Thursday in the Schiappa boardroom in Antonian hall on the subject of upcoming developments in campus dining. The meeting featured a series of projector slides on meal plans led by Doug Orr, the Sodexo manager for the campus.
The discussion moved on to a comparison of dining costs and features between Franciscan University of Steubenville and other colleges including Wheeling Jesuit University, Mount St. Mary’s University, and Franciscan’s sister college, St. Francis University in Loretto, Pa. The center-point of the meeting was revealing future meal plan ideas that are still in formulation. Most notable of these ideas were the Block Plans, meal plans which would distribute meals by semester rather than week. They said the most obvious advantage of this plan was that students going through heavy study periods or intense sports seasons, and those who may miss several meals a week, would not lose those meals permanently. Leftover meals could be saved and used later on in the semester when schedules were lighter.
One potential problem with this plan, Orr mentioned, was students might lose track of their meal usage and start running low long before the semester’s end. Multiple ideas have been thought of to help prevent these oversights, including posted guidelines about how many meals should be left in the plan at periodic dates throughout the semester; notifications of how many meals remain for each individual student from any cashier upon request, and the student suggestion of printing remaining meals as part of receipts upon purchase. Block Plans are intended to undergo a short trial period, and if things turn out well, may be added to existing options within one or two semesters. Current weekly plans would still be offered.
Another subject discussed was how many meal exchanges should be available. Consensus between student opinion and Sodexo – as described by Orr – was that the ideal number would be five exchanges per week, but Orr also mentioned that concerns existed about the facilities’ capabilities to handle this heavier traffic. Exchanges would be restricted to three during the week, with an additional two on the weekend, in order to counteract this overload to some degree. Trials may also begin for additional meal exchanges within a short time.
The Focus Group ended with free, general feedback from the students. One student voiced concerns about allergen cross-contamination between fish and other foods in grill areas, while others expressed desire for more cut fresh fruit throughout the week, and the possibility of serving tofu-based meat substitutes at the deli.
Sodexo Focus Groups are held periodically during the school year. It was at one of these meetings that the concept of Late-Night Antonian hours was initiated on a trial basis.