Consultant to evaluate dining options, meal plans

The Office of Housing and Dining and the Office of Auxiliary Services hired a consultant to improve on-campus dining services, according to Executive Director of Housing and Dining Chris Moody.

"We have a good opportunity to take a fresh look at our dining services," Moody said.

The consultant, Cornyn Fasano Group Inc., conducted focus groups with students, faculty and staff Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Moody.

After Cornyn Fasano compiles the information from the focus groups, it will come back with a survey for the AU community to comment on what changes are needed in dining services, Foodservice Management Consultant John Cornyn said. The survey will be available before spring break.

One major concern expressed by students in the focus groups was the desire for healthier and more fair-trade food options, Cornyn said. However, these options could cost students, faculty and staff more money.

"We're dealing with culture and philosophy juxtaposed against the pocketbook," Cornyn said.

Auxiliary Services manages the food options in the tunnel, according to director JoDe Norris.

"We hear a lot of talk about the healthy options, but there are a lot of students who want that fast-food," Norris said.

It will cost students 90 cents per day per meal plan to switch entirely to organic salad, and 20 cents per day per meal plan to switch to cage-free eggs, Cornyn said.

The students who participated in focus groups discussed whether the AU community would be willing to pay for these meal plan changes.

Katie LaPotin, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, said students would need to be well-informed before deciding on meal plan changes.

"It depends how educated the student body is when they're voting on it," LaPotin said.

Julie Munro, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she thought students should care about where their food comes from.

"I hope that not everyone is just concerned about money," Munro said.

Students also discussed how the university could improve the Terrace Dining Room. Amanda Fulton, a junior in SPA, said she thought students should be allowed to take food out of TDR.

"Sometimes I feel constrained in what food I can take away," Fulton said.

The Cornyn Fasano Group Inc. aims to compile a wide picture of university community's dining needs, Cornyn said. He added that the company has helped other schools become more responsive to changing student needs and desires.

"You have a very diverse community but need an equally diverse food service provider," Cornyn said.

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