- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 23 September 2015
- Written by THE OUTLOOK STAFF
As of June 1, the University welcomed Gourmet Dining LLC as its premiere food service provider, officially replacing Aramark and bringing a wide variety of changes to our campus.
According to an e-mail sent to all students last semester by Mary Anne Nagy, Vice President for Student Life and Leadership Engagement, Gourmet Dining was “selected after an exhaustive nine-month process, which included a review of proposals for the 10-year contract from Sodexo, Parkhurst Dining, and incumbent Aramark, a valued partner to the University for nearly four decades.”
Refurbishment took place throughout the summer in order to prepare for new and returning students this fall. The Rebecca Stafford Student Center interior was redone with new picnic table-style seating and updated food stations, including a new pizza kiosk and create-our-own burger and salad stations. The Student Center is also now host to a fully-functional Dunkin Donuts, which is located in the former grill station.
Other changes, according to Nagy’s e-mail, include an Au Bon Pain location coming soon and the availability of Starbucks coffee at select locations on campus, as well as an overall improvement to campus dining. “Bringing Gourmet to campus will increase the quality of the dining experience by providing more choices including fresh sushi, brick oven pizza, carving stations, organic steamed meals, fresh-baked items, and more to our residential dining program,” Nagy’s e-mail said. “Gourmet will also provide dedicated allergy and gluten-free stations in Magill Commons and a full-time registered dietician will be on campus daily to advise students, faculty, and staff about healthy eating choices.”
As students have settled back into campus and gotten to experience the new dining program, The Outlook staff weighed in on the changes.
Most editors agreed that the new stations in the Student Center are an upgrade. “I have eaten at the salad and Mexican stations and the quality of the food absolutely surpasses what it was last year,” one editor said. Other editors mentioned that the pizza station seems to have many more options than last year, and that the availability of create-your-own style ordering is much more flexible.
However, several editors noted that these upgrades aren’t necessarily worth the price. At the salad station, for example, the cost of your meal is dependent on the weight of your salad, as opposed to a pre-determined amount based on which size you choose. Many editors expressed frustration toward this system of pricing and the increase in expenses overall.
This criticism also applies to the new Dunkin Donuts, which does not take gift cards and has delivered unsatisfactory customer service thus far. Still, The Outlook acknowledges that the system is still new and will likely improve over time, and that having a Dunkin on campus is an upgrade unto itself.
Editors had mixed reactions to the new Student Center layout. One editor who liked the changes noted that “the surfboards and picnic tables play off the idea that Monmouth is a coastal university in a bustling beach town.” Another editor called the updates “top notch.”
Other editors expressed concern over the fact that the tables don’t accommodate everyone. “I think that the picnic tables are very cute and definitely match the new student center environment, but they’re not very useful for larger groups of people,” said one editor. “As someone involved in Greek Life, it’s kind of hard to sit down with a bunch of my sisters at a table that, at most, only seats maybe six people.” Similarly, editors noted that it feels awkward sitting at an entire picnic table by yourself.
Overall, most editors agreed that bringing Gourmet Dining to campus has been a positive change. While there is still room for improvement (editors pointed out issues with accommodations for allergies, speed of service at the dining hall, and poor menu options at Shadows), the University has clearly taken a step in the right direction in updating its food service provider.