Dan Lewis – Food Service Listens to Demands
As students are getting back into their normal college lives, they are returning to what they know so well. Wake up, attend class, go to practice or to a meeting, do homework, hang out with friends, go to bed, repeat.
One thing, however, has changed significantly on the Illinois College campus. That thing, of course, is the food service, provided by Chartwells.
Chartwells has put thousands of dollars into renovations this past summer, completely transforming the old “Coffee Shop” into the bustling Mondo’s Subs and Starbucks Coffee and the old “Grill” into the Rustic Range burger joint.
Only there was one problem: the students weren’t happy.
Not only had Chartwells physically changed their dining halls, but they had also changed everything about them. Meals were no longer six dollars. Extra costs were charged with Points only. Only two venues were open for lunch. Nothing was open before 7:30am. There were no longer any to-go boxes in Cummings Dining Hall. Fruit was removed from the Coffee Shop. Einstein’s in the Grill on Friday nights was gone.
It’s easy to see why students, especially returning students, were upset with the dining service provider for completely changing their dining experience and for the worst.
To pacify the student body, Chartwells, in conjunction with Student Body President Jovanny Nava ’16 and Student Senate Student Life Committee Chairman Manny Tshimoa ‘16, hosted a Food Service Forum on Monday, September 15.
The Forum, held in Room 6 in Kirby Hall at 7:00pm, was attended by approximately 45 concerned students and was conducted in a Town Hall-style format where Chartwells officials spoke and then opened up the floor for questions and comments.
Chartwells’ Regional Manager Rafael Conde, the boss of Illinois College’s Director of Dining Services Joe Werts, led the forum and spoke about the recent renovations and progress made by Chartwells. Also in attendance were Assistant Director of Dining Service Mark Bradshaw and Vice-President of Business Affairs Frank Williams.
Mr. Conde fielded the many complaints that IC students threw his way, taking notes and making sure to hear as many grievances as possible. At times the crowd of students got rowdy and disgruntled as they bombarded the Chartwells employee with question after question and criticism after criticism.
The main issues addressed were the lack of to-go boxes, the late opening of the Dining Hall, the reintroduction of Einstein’s on Friday nights, and the transferability of costs in regards to meals and Points.
After the forum, these men met with Chairman Tshimoa and Dean of Students Malinda Carlson to address the most important issues brought up in the meeting and how to go about appeasing the student population.
Soon after this second meeting, Student Senate posted on their Facebook page and Director Wertz sent a campus-wide email that described what changes they will be making in accordance with the complaints and issues made in the Food Forum.
The to-go boxes were originally removed from Cummings when Chartwells introduced the new Continuous Dining Plan and they didn’t want students who had all-day access to the Dining Hall to take large boxes of food out of the cafeteria to give to other students. Conde reported at the Food Forum that only 16 students were on the new plan. Werts has since declared this to be an “oversight,” and immediately brought the boxes back to the Dining Hall.
Many students were also excited to hear that Cummings would start opening at 7:00am instead of 7:30am. Athletes with morning workouts, students with 8:00am classes, and early risers were initially rushed to get in and out of the cafeteria when it opened at 7:30am. Another change to the morning Dining Hall routine: the omelet and pancake station will be open until 10:30am every day.
Einstein’s was brought back Friday, September 26 in the Rustic Range from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. The six dollar system was returned and students were once again given the option to choose between using a meal or Points.
President Nava stated, “I am grateful that the Chartwells staff here is willing to hear out the concerns of the students and is a great part of the Illinois College community.”
While some issues have yet to be addressed, Chartwells has clearly listened to the complaints and concerns of the student body and has shown that it is willing to make changes to make the students satisfied with their food service.
Dan Lewis, from Mahomet, Illinois, is a junior majoring in history and political science at Illinois College. Dan is Editor-in-Chief of The Rambler and Student Body Vice-President and serves on multiple student-faculty committees.