Accommodation. That’s the new name of the game for Pioneer College Caterers and the cafeteria at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Rob Stiltner, food services director of Pioneer College Caterers, and his team released a student-wide survey for the 2018 Spring semester. Stiltner and his team are taking the students’ criticism and comments to heart.
About 25 percent of students living on campus responded, ranking aspects of the cafeteria such as mealtime options, special dietary needs, speed of serving lines and overall satisfaction.
On a scale of 1-10, the average ranking from the 26 categories was a 7.31. Similar surveys brought in an 8.39 average last fall and a 7.57 average a year ago.
Main criticisms focused on the quantity and quality of cafeteria fruit, the selections in the vegan bar, lack of gluten-free options, meat preparation and overall limited selections at mealtimes.
The survey garnered 45 negative comments about the fruit in the caf. As a result, MVNU students can now expect to see fresh fruit available in the cafeteria every day.
“It’s tough to get good quality fruit,” especially in the winter, Stiltner said. “It’s a constant battle.”
The vegan bar, introduced in November, is receiving a positive response, and students are requesting more options, including weekend offerings.
Stiltner acknowledges that the vegan bar needs improvements and said he and his team are working on adding more selections.
Another common complaint was the lack of gluten-free options at mealtimes.
Stiltner plans to hang a sign that tells the students gluten-free pizza is available, and the team is also looking into offering a gluten-free soup daily.
With dietary restrictions becoming more common, Stiltner said he and his team want to make sure MVNU students have a good array of options available to them.
“It’s our job to make sure your dietary needs are taken care of,” Stiltner said.
Stiltner said his staff has even prepared special individual meals for students on restricted diets in the past, and one year allowed a student access to the food prep area so she could make her own meals.
One of the most prominent complaints was about how thoroughly the food, especially meat, is cooked. Many students said the meat is undercooked, making them question its safety.
Finally, students also asked for more variety in meal choices, especially on the weekends.
The highest praise was for the beverage selection and ice cream and toppings.
Other hits are the made-to-order subs, made-to-order/demo station, the grille line and the Ticket Nights.
Students also praised Stiltner and his staff for their friendliness and helpfulness, cleanliness of the serving areas and dining commons, and responsiveness of management.
Respondents, including 61 faculty and staff, rated their overall satisfaction with MVNU Food Services as 6.78.
Caf Outlines Plan to Improve Dining
Based on feedback from a recent Caf survey, Director of Food Services Rob Stiltner has outlined an action plan to address student complaints and improve the dining experience.
“It’s critical that we up our game,” by focusing on details and meeting students’ needs, Stiltner said.
• Fruit — Offer fresh fruit items and fruit salad daily.
• Vegan Options — Add more options, including vegan desserts, and extend the vegan menu from a 3-week to a 4-week rotation.
• Soup — Give diners at least one gluten-free soup to choose from daily.
• Pizza — Try new crust options and seek student feedback on what they like best.
• Desserts — Implement a “dessert from home” promotion where students can share their favorite dessert recipes with a chance to implement them into the dessert rotation.
• Monthly Specials — Seek input from a student food committee for ideas for menus for special events.