AU Food Services received almost entirely negative feedback on Yo! Bowl throughout the first three weeks of this semester. Students were disappointed with the quality and variety of the food it offered. With this in mind, Food Services decided to replace the venue mid-semester.
Suahil Housholder, business manager for Business and Auxiliary Services, explains the process AUFS recently underwent. “We learned that there was an undercurrent of student dissatisfaction. Students rated it poor for meeting expectations and for overall experience. Given this feedback and decreased sales at Yo! Bowl, it was determined that the student population was not supportive of keeping the venue.”
Food Services is committed to offering AU students a quality dining program. They immediately implemented an action plan which allowed students to vote for another Student Choice dining concept.
According to Housholder, this plan included identifying concepts that could be implemented with excellence, communicating to students about their opportunity to make a change and allowing students to cast an informed vote by offering a taste showcase of their options.
Food sampling and voting took place in the Marketplace on Jan. 30. Options included Sono, a fresh Mexican grill; 2mato, a variety of fast Italian dishes; Meltdown, a build-your-own grilled cheese sandwich shop; and Twisted Mac, a variety of macaroni and cheese combinations.
Students voted overwhelmingly for 2mato, and their choice appeared in the Haven on Feb. 3.
Many students are already familiar with 2mato, as it was an option in the Haven during the 2015-2016 school year. 2mato offers a spread of salads, sandwiches, pizzas and pastas.
Student Body President Eric Stone is pleased with Food Service’s recent efforts to take student opinions into consideration. However, it appears to him that “only recently have students been included in the decision-making process regarding food.” In addition, “changes seem to only happen after a large group of students express their opinions for a long period of time.”
He believes that the price students pay to eat on campus should justify them having a certain quality of food and plenty of choices. “The idea of students picking what they want for a dining option is a great idea that will allow new, fresh choices to continue coming in,” comments Stone.
According to Stone, students value quality and speed of service in the Haven. “When students start getting fast food that is good quality, that’s when they will not be so dissatisfied with [AU] Food Services.”
Stone hopes that this time around, 2mato will be more efficient in its food preparation process in order to serve more students in less time.
Junior Payton Lantz brings up another concern regarding the Haven: “Healthy food items should not be as expensive as they are.” It is less feasible for students to eat healthily when, for example, a Chick-fil-A salad costs more than one meal swipe.
Sophomore Wes Davidson attended the taste showcase. He is “relieved to see 2mato return to the Haven,” because they offer a wide variety of foods.
Dave Bailey, a sophomore, accompanied Davidson at the taste showcase and calls 2mato a “good option,” although his favorite was the Twisted Mac Station. Joe Line agrees, calling Twisted Mac “fantastic.”
However, both are satisfied with the decision to bring 2mato back to the Haven. Bailey is most concerned with having quality food, no matter what concept. Line hopes to have enough variety in the Haven so that he does not have to eat the same thing every day.
Davidson was impressed with the way AUFS handled student dissatisfaction with Yo! Bowl. “They definitely handled the situation better than I expected they would by giving us multiple replacement options and I love that they let us taste everything before we voted.”
Line agrees that giving students a chance to taste each option before voting was imperative on the part of Food Services. “If we get to taste everything before we vote, we can’t screw it up again,” he says.
Bailey appreciates the quickness with which Food Services handled the issue. When it became evident that students were not satisfied with Yo! Bowl, they chose to correct the problem right away rather than wait until the end of the semester to allow students to select another venue.
“I was thoroughly impressed with how Food Services responded,” says Lantz. With this instance, “it really felt like students’ voices were being heard and taken into account.”
After having 2.mato in place for a few days, Sophomore Kathy Gutierrez Eberly is pleased with the food option. “I definitely think that it tastes better than last time it was in business. I was not a fan of the pizza crust and now I really like it. The combos in my opinion are better this year than they were last year; the option of a side salad or breadsticks is very appealing.”
“I was worried that the pasta would not be brought back since it was not an option at the taste testing in the MP but was pleased to see that it has returned and Alfredo was a great addition,” Gutierrez Eberly continued. “It would be nice to see the calzone return as a specialty item everyone in a while. Overall, I am pleased with the change.”