May 9, 2016
Topic 7 Results: Dining Experience
For spring 2016, Help Make CSUN Shine Bright turned its focus on campus dining and once again, the CSUN community responded in its typically generous fashion. Below is a summary of input, along with information on efforts already underway to address some of the points that were raised.
You have already made a difference! CSUN Dining staff is reviewing all suggestions for possible implementation and some improvements are now in the works.
We asked you what would make the campus dining experience better. You responded with requests for more: healthy, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free, organic, local, low-fat, low-salt, low-carb, dairy-free, seasonal, and fresh foods. You asked for additional ethnic foods, including Italian, Indian, Persian, Greek, and Mediterranean, as well as more Kosher and Halal selections. There were requests for specific fast food brands as well.
On the flip side -- there were requests for less fast food – as well as less hydrogenated oils, processed food, and ‘junk’ food. One respondent suggested eliminating meat from campus menus altogether.
You asked for more variety at all food units and in vending machines. Many of you asked that salad bars be expanded and enhanced, and some would like to see more breakfast options or even breakfast served all day.
Better availability of nutritional information was requested, along with better labeling of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc. selections. Nutritional analysis of some of the foods served on campus is currently available online at http://www.csun.edu/tuc/nutritional-analysis . In response to your requests, The University Corporation, the CSUN auxiliary responsible for campus food services, will launch a nutrition app this summer. Additionally, for fall 2016, CSUN Dining will enhance signage and ingredient labeling. Nutrient icons will be provided at the Sierra Marketplace and the Arbor Grill. Vegetarian, vegan and healthy items will be identified on menu boards.
You suggested use of disposable gloves by all food handlers, dispensers rather than bins for plastic utensils, and staff training on food allergies/proper food handling to minimize reactions. Dining managers and chefs do complete the eight-hour ServSafe® training program, and all other food handlers must earn their food handler cards by completing food handler training, including use of gloves, cross-contamination, etc. This training is required by the Los Angeles County Department of Health. CSUN Dining staff also participate in the food allergies training program of the National Association of College and University Food Service (NACUFS) Nutrition Summit. These education and training efforts are ongoing.
Many respondents commented on service. You recommended longer operating hours, evening and weekend hours, keeping more units open during the summer and school breaks, or bringing food trucks onto campus during those times. Arbor Grill is now open on Saturdays, 7:30 am – 2:00 pm! Additionally, Shake Smart, in the USU, is open Saturday and Sunday, 10 am – 7 pm. And the Freudian Sip – Oviatt Library is open on Sunday, 12 pm – 7 pm. (Locations and operating hours of all campus food locations are available online at http://www.csun.edu/csundining/locationhours.)
For speedier service, you suggested increased staffing during peak hours to reduce lines, as well as self-checkout. There were requests for more table-service restaurants, as well as cafeteria-style dining on the main campus (similar to Geronimo’s and Bamboo Terrace) and a faculty-and-staff-only dining venue. The Colleagues Room, Sierra Center – 2nd floor, opened in response to a similar request several years ago. Seating is reserved for faculty and staff, Monday through Friday, 7 am -2 pm. (The room is open to everyone on cold, windy and rainy days.)
Other suggestions included Geronimo’s to-go boxes, an on-campus delivery service (CSUN Dining To Go - http://www.csun.edu/csundining/togo - provides on-campus delivery/catering for small groups), more customer service training for staff, and more microwaves and toaster ovens for those who bring food from home. The Associated Students has applied for campus quality fee funds to purchase additional microwaves for campus. Currently there are microwave ovens available for campus community use in the Education building, The Pub, Matador Mercado-Bookstore and Matador Mercado-USU.
One person suggested a food service advisory committee. In fact, the Food Service Advisory Committee has been active for over ten years and is comprised primarily of students, along with representatives from the faculty and staff.
There were quite a few pleas for more indoor and shaded outdoor seating, as well as for more comfortable seating for long hours of studying. Under consideration now is additional outdoor seating at the Matador Bookstore Complex and at the Arbor Grill. As campus dining venues are refreshed, additional seating will be a primary consideration.
Food prices were on the minds of many. There were requests for reinstating loyalty cards, developing a $1 menu, offering coupons, instituting an electronic rewards program, and selling sushi at half-price late in the day. Offering smaller portions at lower prices was also suggested. Beginning in the fall 2016 semester, improved signage will promote lower-priced menu options at each dining location.
Adequacy of Food Venues
We asked about the adequacy of food venues. While most respondents felt that the current venues were adequate, suggestions were submitted for additional venues near: Monterey Hall, Chaparral Hall, Art & Design Center, Redwood Hall, SRC, Juniper Hall, Oviatt Library, and the College of Business. We received a few suggestions for snack and coffee carts across campus. One respondent suggested a café in every building. Others thought that increased seating at the current venues would suffice.
In the area of technology, recommendations included a digital rewards program, ApplePay, an app to find area restaurants and their specials, online ordering, a MataMoney app, and instituting a campus one card. A campus committee has been formed to investigate the possibility of implementing a campus one card.
Tapingo, the mobile ordering app available at CSUN is a mystery to some, familiar to others, and used regularly by a few. While those who do use Tapingo are generally satisfied with it, there is room for improvement. Respondents cited as a primary issue staff delays in filling Tapingo orders.
Peer-to-Peer Nutritional Counseling
One-third of those responding indicated an interest in peer-to-peer nutritional counseling. It was pointed out that nutritional counseling is already available on-campus at the Klotz Student Health Center and the USU’s Oasis Wellness Center. Additionally, peer-to-peer nutritional counseling is provided every Tuesday and Thursday at Geronimo’s/Bamboo.
Thanks to everyone who responded to this semester’s question. Your input is in the hands of CSUN Dining staff and will also be reviewed by the Food Service Advisory Committee.