By Jackie Delaney Review Editor
Ask the students on campus about their opinion on the food from Eickhoff Hall and you’ll get a mixed response. Some love the variety of options and are simply content with the quality, while others avoid the dining hall at all costs.
The main dining location is a common conversation topic for students — whether it’s about what is being served at Quimby’s Kitchen for dinner or if the popular soft-serve ice cream machine is up and running.
“You run into the occasional discolored meat or under-cooked pasta, but on a good day, the food isn’t terrible,” junior special education and English double major Julia McKinnies said.
Like McKinnies, freshman communication studies major Danielle Silvia has a changing opinion of the food in Eickhoff Hall.
While she said that the food is “not terrible but not great,” she stated that “it is pretty decent for college food,” but still with room for improvement.
Other students feel differently.
“It’s not as bad as people make it out to be,” junior physics major Shreyas Shirodkar said, referencing the common complaints heard around campus from students.
Junior psychology and history double major Kevin Moncayo listed convenience and variety as his favorite parts of Eickhoff Hall, but said that sometimes, these aspects are affected by the volume of students.
“My least favorite part about Eick is that at times, it gets so busy and the lines get really long,” Moncayo said.
With all these varying opinions of Eickhoff Hall, how does Dining Services collect student feedback and respond to it?
Sodexo General Manager Patrice Mendes cited many ways for students to provide Dining Services with their opinions and suggestions.
Comment cards are located at the dining hall’s registers, allowing students to write and submit their concerns. Electronic comment cards are also accessible on the Dining Services’s website.
Mendes said that “a student can ask to speak to a manager (in Eickhoff Hall) at any time.” Her contact information, as well as emails for Operations Director Steven Reader and Registered Dietician Aliz Holzmann, can be found on the televisions at each food station.
Mendes mentioned that Dining Services is on both Twitter and Facebook for students to contact. There is a texting service available for students to use, as well. Students can send a text to 82257 with the keyword “TCNJDining” with a message or question. Mendes said that they will receive a response back within 24 hours.
“Responses that require immediate action are given to the appropriate person to handle,” Mendes said.
Student concerns and suggestions from these feedback avenues are discussed in Dining Services Committee meetings, which are a direct way to share suggestions with Dining Services. The meetings, which are held by the Dining Services Marketing and Culinary teams every other Wednesday at 2 p.m. in room 324 of the Social Sciences Building, began in the ’90s, according to Mendes.
Turnout to these meetings has been sparse, Mendes said, with five to seven students usually attending with dietary concerns or requests.
But Mendes said that these meetings are a great way for students to make sure their voices are heard.
“We are always looking for and encouraging students to attend and be heard. The more students we have at these meetings, the better the entire campus community is represented,” Mendes said. “We discuss all student comments submitted and the possible resolutions.”
The next Dining Services Committee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 9, according to Dining Services’s website.
According to Mendes, most of the improvements they have made to increase the variety in food are the result of this open forum.
She said that grilled chicken and quinoa in the salad bar, soy milk options, infused water and the soft-serve ice cream machine have all been changes in Eickhoff Hall as a result of student feedback.
Even with all of these outlets for voicing concerns, many students do not take advantage of these services.
Moncayo has never submitted a feedback form to Dining Services because he “never thought that would accomplish anything.”
Silvia, on the other hand, was unaware of the feedback options for students to use. But now knowing about them, she said “in the future I will have to keep an eye out for them.” She thinks it is important for Dining Services to collect feedback, because “there is no way that a situation can improve” without it.
McKinnies agrees that sharing one’s opinion is the only way to spark a dialogue and bring about change.
“Every student here that is paying for a meal plan has an opinion or preference on what they’re eating, so I think it’s extremely important to take their ideas into consideration,” McKinnies said.
Mendes stressed that feedback is also very important to Dining Services.
“This is the student’s program and we want their input and suggestions to ensure that the atmosphere, menu and service are all meeting their expectations,” she said. “If students want to be heard, we want them to know we are listening.”