by Ezekiel Pagaduan | Staff Writer
Recently, the Sodexo team and the Associated Students of Whitworth University (ASWU) met to discuss changes and new food suggestions for the upcoming year, with the aim of improving student satisfaction. Sodexo has been the food provider for Whitworth since 2011, and regularly seeks ways to improve meal offerings, especially in accommodating students with dietary restrictions.
“[At the] beginning of the year we address the ASWU council and we tell them of any changes in the food program, any new managers and new programs that [are] different [from] the previous year,” said Dan King, operations manager at Sodexo.
King said that, while there will probably always be those who dislike certain dining hall options or want to see additional changes, overall students are generally pleased with the program.
Nevertheless, he said that part of the job is sitting down and discussing students’ concerns, and that his door is always open.
This message is echoed by others in the Sodexo staff.
“We always do our best to serve Whitworth community, and we value students’ appreciation of the food we serve them,” said Megan Helm, executive chef of Sodexo. “We made a list of changes. We have started to implement some of them already.”
From this has stemmed meetings this year between Sodexo and ASWU.
“ASWU and Sodexo had a meeting about suggestions for more available food choices and more fresh fruits for students this year,” said Andrews Boateng, ASWU Executive Vice President. Additionally, ASWU and Sodexo are encouraging interested students to attend the weekly ASWU meetings.
“ASWU has partnered up with Sodexo, providing free food passes for those who attend ASWU meetings on Wednesdays. This also helps off-campus students that do not have a meal plan,” Boateng said.
By bringing their comments to ASWU, students have a better chance of getting their opinions heard and requests granted.
“I think these changes would increase student satisfaction because I know people have approached me [asking] ‘why aren’t they serving anything except those apples that are always displayed there?’” said senior Chloe Taton, a Sodexo worker.
In an effort to make dining more exciting, Sodexo frequently looks for opportunities to connect with students through innovative events. Last year, Sodexo put on a Hawaiian food night which Taton said many people enjoyed.
Despite having a diverse range of food choices, as well as numerous outside-of-the-box tools that it employs to promote a strong dining experience, Sodexo continually strives to improve patrons’ experience and is always seeking feedback on how to improve. This is the primary reason for meeting with ASWU and asking for student feedback, King said.
Additionally, he highlighted some things that will be added this year that students should look forward to. These changes will include a seafood night, orange chicken, a new rack for spices and sauces in the Pirate Room, desserts without refined sugar, more fresh fruits, sliced apples, and perhaps a reintroduction of the panini press.