This year, students saw major changes to Campus Dining — more specifically to 19 Metro Station. In previous quarters, Metro stuck to the serve-yourself buffet style, where students would grab a plate, use tongs and spoons to load food onto it and then find a place to eat.
This quarter however, Metro deviated from the cafeteria format and aimed to provide more variety in their menu. There have been action stations where Campus Dining staff serve food directly to customers. For example, at the Mongolian action station, noodles, vegetables and the customer’s choice of protein are cooked, mixed and served to them in a bowl.
“I’ve noticed a lot more rotations in food,” computer engineering freshman Arvind Krish said.
Krish frequented Metro since his first quarter at Cal Poly and goes at least three times a week.
“It also all-around tastes better,” Krish said. “Not to mention the food seems fresher and service is a lot nicer too.”
Because of the timing of these changes, many students said they thought Campus Dining made them in hopes of attracting new students. The changes were put into place a little more than a week before the start of Open House, when prospective students would eat on campus. However, these changes are purely coincidental.
“A lot of people came into places like Sandwich Factory and Metro thinking these changes were made simply for Open House but actually they were made for the whole spring quarter,” Heather Nyznyk, supervisor of Lucy’s Juice and Sandwich Factory, said. “There wasn’t necessarily a big reason for it. But last quarter we conducted a campus dining survey and took into account [what] our customers wanted and we began to implement these things.”
The survey, which was open until Feb. 26, was a simple 10-minute questionnaire about the quality of Campus Dining. It asked students to rate their satisfaction of various aspects of Campus Dining from speed of service to overall atmosphere.
“The survey is done and was followed up by a series of focus groups that garnered participation from 200 members of the campus community,” Kelly Azel, a communication specialist with Cal Poly, said. “The response and participation rate of the survey and focus groups was tremendous.”
There is also the issue of seating all of Metro’s new customers. Unlike the Avenue and Sandwich Factory, students are not allowed to get their food to go; they must eat at Metro. This resulted in a couple instances where staff had to close their doors until enough space was made for people to be seated.
The new system also caused staffing issues, especially during large events like Open House or Poly Cultural Weekend. Work schedules for Campus Dining are usually done on a week-by-week basis, but when there are events happening extra workers need to be called in. Constant business also makes some jobs, such as running and cleaning dishes from the eating area, much more stressful.
These changes may become permanent but right now Campus Dining is experimenting, Nyznyk said.
“These changes could extend past this quarter,” Nyznyk said. “The changes and decision were made by the executive chefs so I don’t have that much input but it’s definitely a possibility. Especially if it works [and] if we see that students really like it, I’m sure [the changes] would come back for fall quarter.”