Confidential Report Recommends Changes for Dining Hall
Issue   |   Wed, 08/31/2011 - 16:05
June Pan '13

Sick of eating the same food at Val every day? Tired of spending your money on late night snacks off-campus when you could be using those extra swipes instead? And ever wondered what really goes on in Lewis-Sebring Dining Commons?

Well, good news. The Student has received a copy of a confidential report that Petit Consulting LLC, a firm specialized in providing food service and hospitality consulting, created for Dining Services. The report offers recommendations and improvements for the upcoming school year.

Highlights of the six-page report included the addition of Lewis-Sebring as a student dining hall with different or faster meal options, the employment of more specialized and talented cooks and chefs, an increase in locally produced and fresh foods, a change in work environment and values, the expansion of Schwemm’s Café and the addition of a coffee shop to Frost’s lobby.

While the report estimated Val’s Annual Food Costs to increase 20 percent and payroll costs to increase 16 percent over fiscal year 2009, the benefits of these dramatic improvements, if implemented, might just outweigh their costs.

In their report, Petit Consulting LLC suggested that either Lewis-Sebring or Val be opened for meals throughout the day, as well as for late-night meals. The report also suggested that Val and Lewis-Sebring prepare more, and fresher, packaged foods to go.

While increased services are an advantage to these suggested improvements, overall quality, ambiance and morale will be the determinants in making these long-term changes. The report paid special attention to maintaining consistent levels of quality and contents in the kitchen (especially on the weekends), erasing the “service” mindset of Val staff to foster a more fruitful environment and creating rewards and incentives to motivate staff members to innovate and excel.

Furthermore, the report emphasizes the need for Val to update, contemporize and innovate offerings at all serving and preparation stations. As it stands, only eight percent of Val’s purchased food is local or fresh. The report suggests that Val increase its purchase of fresh foods to 12 to 15 percent and improve food displays, color combinations and plate presentations in order to make its dishes more attractive and palatable. According to Petit, Val should also consider diversifying its menu with more “authentically ethnic dishes” and more made-to-order options, like the Asian Noodle Bar and prepared deli sandwiches.

The report’s biggest suggestion was the creation of a café in the library complete with café tables, soft upholstered chairs and high stools. While the café would not serve hot food, students, staff and customers would be able to enjoy pre-made items from the Val kitchen and bake shop.

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