Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), Inter Housing Council (IHC) and Campus Dining collaborated to hold a Campus Dining Open Forum Friday, Mar. 8 from 1-2 p.m. in the University Union. The event served as a way for students to express feedback of Campus Dining and voice their opinions about the current food on campus.
There were about 50-65 individuals in attendance, along with 700 people tuned into the live stream of the event.
Anthropology senior Aliza Herzberg and business senior Jack Wooldridge, two ASI board members, helped organize the event.
“I really just wanted to increase transparency,” Wooldridge said. “So, allowing students to have that voice and communicate directly towards dining and then having dining be able to directly follow-up with the students.”
Video by Sam Spitz
A panel of four representatives from Campus Dining, including Campus Dining Director Tom Visvikis, Assistant Director of Campus Dining Russell Monteath, Campus Dining Registered Dietitian and Sustainability Coordinator Kaitlin Gibbons and Corporation Counsel and Director of Facilities Will Marchese, attended and answered questions during the forum.
Political science freshman and IHC member Austin McLellan pitched the idea for the open forum and helped coordinate the event.
“We want to have more opportunities like this for residents, for students to talk to dining and voice their opinion,” McLellan said.
The forum started with a statement from each of the representatives, followed by answering pre-submitted questions from students. The forum was then opened up to students in attendance to ask questions.
Cal Poly currently displays three options for food and container disposal on campus: recycle, landfill and compost. During the open forum, animal science senior Tyler Knight asked the representatives about their plans to educate students as to which item belongs in which bin.
“It’d be a really good idea to post pictures of the things that are served [in each dining facility] rather than just a plastic cup or a paper box because those aren’t the things you’re getting when you’re ordering those items,” Knight said. “It gets confusing and then you see Chick-fil-A boxes in every single trash can: compost, recycling and trash.”
Questions about meal plans, food quality, the lack of variety, alternative food options and a better food review system were just a few of the many concerns brought up during the forum.
According to Visvikis, meal credits will be eliminated next year and students will have the option to choose between three different amounts of declining balances for their meal plan.
Gibbons said the Avenue’s Student Choice option, where students vote on a type of food for the quarter serves as a way to rotate the menu, but they will continue to look at solutions especially with the upcoming Building 19 (The Avenue and 805 Kitchen) Renovation project.
Updates on the new market coming to yakʔitʸutʸu were discussed as the plans are complete and currently under peer review. Marchese said the Grand Avenue Market is expected to open in the fall of the 2019/2020 academic year.
Students not only voiced concerns, but also offered suggestions, including a system where students can bring in their own bowls and take food to go — eliminating contamination and waste.
“We value and cherish this feedback. Honestly, it’s a great way for us to get a lot of feedback at once and follow-up on questions and get real-time information, so we will definitely take this to heart,” Gibbons said. “We continue to evolve our program based on student feedback. We are here is to meet students’ needs so I look forward in incorporating what we heard today into our programs.”