By Rishon Seaborn
This fall Salisbury University began the semester with many new changes and accommodations to its dining services.
The new Commons’ structure and the new technology at Hungry Minds Express have caused students to voice their opinions about the changes.
There have been opportunities for students’ voices to be heard through various surveys and even through social media.
Director of Dining Services Owen Rosten shared some insight on the intent of Dining Services.
“My motivation is for students to get every penny’s worth of their meals and dining dollars,” Rosten said.
There are many changes going on behind the scenes as Dining Services is slowly implementing new changes that are constructed to help the students.
The text-and-tell at Commons, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and the annual benchmarking survey all allow both human and numerical feedback to be taken into consideration.
“What I came to realize over the past several years is that the largest outcry of students is their want for a national brand,” Rosten said.
At the time, Salisbury University was the only university in a state system that did not have a national brand represented at their school.
The statistics showed that 80.4 percent of students wanted a national brand present at SU. There was an overwhelming response in favor of Chick-fil-a.
“We’re taking this national brand and making it ours,” Rosten said. “It’s going to be operated by our employees in favor of Salisbury University. It gives us the chance to get it right by making sure students are served quickly, that the quality is there and then we can add to it.”
Another local brand that has been introduced to campus this semester is the token coffee shop, Rise Up.
The competitive edge of universities and their dining halls is always a key factor that is kept in the minds of prospective students.
Dining Services has a goal of staying as current as possible as it makes frequent changes to the menus and offers newer things.
Keeping students interested is an important part of the job. The subtle changes of having breakfast as a 24/7 option and the availability of similar meals that imitate Chipotle all reflect the students’ interests and statistical data.
The amount of gluten free, vegetarian and vegan meals offered has nearly tripled throughout campus.
“We are always trying to address the students’ wants and needs on campus and do it in a way that appeals to the majority,” Rosten said.
These new implementations of change take time and also are a matter of trial and error at times.
“I was not prepared for the volume of business of Hungry Minds. It doesn’t even have the same flow as Gull’s Nest,” Rosten said. “Because Hungry Minds is located right near everything else it’s definitely busier during certain times of day.”
One mistake that was initially made was the assumption that the new technology would be user-friendly for all. The flaws of the new ordering machines lead to some students being overcharged due to the configuration of the system.
In the meantime, to accommodate this change, there has been an attendant installed to help students navigate through any errors that might occur when trying to order.
“Our wait time used to be nearly over 40 minutes but now we’re under 10 minutes, and we have a goal of reducing it to less than four minutes,” Rosten said.
The training of the staff has also been undergoing changes as they are learning new technology as well.
“It has been a learning curve not only for the consumers [students] but on ours as well, but we are fortunate enough to have students identify the immediate problems,” Rosten said. “This way they can be addressed and are able to be worked through.”