Healthy and diverse meal options are commonly cited as one of the things students value most on their college campus. Most students do not expect the cafeteria to create an exact replication of mom’s home cooking, but they do expect to be provided with nutritious, good-tasting food.
This year, AU Food Services introduced the Student Choice program, letting students decide the menu of the second dining option in the Haven. Chick-fil-A has remained constant throughout the years, but the second selection is ever-changing.
Suahil Housholder, AU’s business manager for Business and Auxiliary Services, explained that, through the Student Choice program, it was made clear that students wanted more ethnic options available in the Haven.
This semester, students opted to introduce Yo! Bowl to the Haven.
Yo! Bowl offers Asian cuisine in a create-your-own plate style. AU’s Food Service website boasts a variety of entrée options, such as orange chicken, teriyaki chicken, beef and broccoli, General Tso’s chicken and Mongolian beef, as well as Lo Mein noodles, vegetable fried rice and white and brown rice as sides. Several vegetarian options are also available—cream cheese rangoons, vegetable egg rolls and sesame vegetable stir fry.
Students were initially enthusiastic about the idea of Yo! Bowl, but when it came time to execute, it appears that expectations have not been met.
In a Twitter poll given a few weeks into the semester, students were asked about their opinion of Yo! Bowl thus far. Of 187 students who have responded to-date, only nine claim to “love it.” 37 students can “tolerate it” while the remaining 141 students “are not a fan at all.”
Food Services must now determine what went wrong in order to improve this important aspect of students’ dining experience. This is especially critical for underclassmen who rely on the Marketplace and the Haven for the majority of their meals.
Housholder commented that “it is too early to tell” exactly why student response to Yo! Bowl has been overwhelmingly negative. However, she and the SGA’s Auxiliary Committee, and the rest of AU’s Food Service staff, “take pride in offering students a quality dining program and take [their] concerns very seriously.”
Freshman Joe Moran believes that “the MP has improved a little, but overall the dining options are poor.” Moran is one of many who do not rate Yo! Bowl highly, and he wishes that students had a wider variety of choices when it comes to food.
Olivia Dudley, also a freshman, often opts to eat at Create for breakfast and lunch, because she feels it offers plentiful options, unlike the Haven. However, “since Yo! Bowl changed the way they cook their chicken, my friends and I now enjoy the orange chicken and rice,” says Dudley.
Dudley likes the idea of changing the spot that Yo! Bowl now occupies each semester and letting students vote for what goes in its place. “It’s nice to have a change every once in a while, especially if you don’t like the current type of food. Then you have something to look forward to,” she explains.
Moran agrees that it’s a step in the right direction to survey students about what they want to eat, but other than simply the type of food students want, he feels “no one really listens to our concerns.”
Freshman Kyle Hall plays baseball, and emphasizes the important of pre- and post-workout meals. “Sometimes the MP doesn’t cut it and eating Chick-fil-A gets old after a while, so I really wish we had a good third option,” says Hall. He is one of the few who believes Yo! Bowl is a step up from Sono, commenting that “it’s kind of like Panda Express, so it’s not all that bad.”
It seems that more variety is a consensus among students as far as what they are hoping for. Sophomore Beccah Teller explains “I’ve heard that people are missing places like 2mato that offered more variation in how our food is prepared.” 2mato used a similar set of ingredients in the majority of its dishes, but offered a host of choices such as salads, pastas, paninis, pizzas, soups and calzones.
Senior Ariana Milla has been around for numerous changes in the identity of the second Haven option. She believes that while “in theory, Yo! Bowl is a great idea, they have to change the way they cook the food.” She and many of her peers have observed that the rice is often not cooked to completion and that the chicken is chewy.
Additionally, Milla asserts that “just because you mix canned oranges with chicken does not make it orange chicken.” Food Services has taken into consideration student concerns with Yo! Bowl’s orange chicken and made changes accordingly, hopefully leading to its improvement.
As well as many other students, Milla thinks Food Services has responded well to what kind of food AU students want. However, she noted that “the quality of the food has not improved at all,” and that is arguably more important than the type of food we are served.