Interim Executive Director, Cal Poly Corporation
Associate Vice President, Commercial Operations
Campus Dining’s primary goal is to create a positive and enjoyable dining experience for Cal Poly students, and a lot of what we do is build upon student feedback.
While we work hard to stay in tune with student tastes and preferences, introduce new food options and expand our sustainability measures and nutrition education for the Cal Poly community, we know there is always room for improvement. We appreciate Anna Hirsh taking the time to share her thoughts. A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with Anna and Megan Coats, Campus Dining’s registered dietician, to listen to Anna’s concerns, talk about some of what we have been doing and discuss future plans, and gather input from her for healthy snacks that she would like to see offered. Her letter provides an opportunity to share some of the larger projects we have been working on and the choices currently available.
For Fall 2014, there are changes already made or that are in the works: Market Sushi opened inside Campus Market and offers handmade sushi; Red Radish will open inside Ciao! in late October and features a made-to-order salad operation, including salads featuring fresh, local ingredients, and will accept meal plan credits; Ciao! has redone its counter layout so customers can better see the food being served and has introduced a new dough and bolder sauce recipe. We are also working on re-configuring the meal plan options for Fall 2015 to give students more choices.
In addition to having food that appeals to diverse tastes, we know it’s also important to have food available at times when our customers want it. Currently, Campus Dining offers more than 25 different restaurant or market options in 18 locations spread throughout campus, with many operations open until midnight or later and one, Subway, open 24 hours a day.
Meal plan students can redeem meal plan credits at five locations on-campus, and will have a sixth location when Red Radish opens. A portion of the meal plan is the flex dollars which are redeemable at all 18 dining locations. All meal plan locations offer fresh fruits, vegetables, grab and go salads or salad bars, whole grains (tortillas, brown rice, quinoa, bread, for example), grilled and roasted proteins, as well as vegan and vegetarian options. Many of the grab and go items are made from fresh fruits and vegetables cut and packaged right on campus. We support local farms and business whenever possible with baked breads, pastries, seasonal seafood, dairy and fresh produce and we incorporate Cal Poly products into our menus when the quantities and ingredients are available and make sense for the recipes being prepared.
These are a few examples of how we are actively responding to suggestions from our students and others on campus. In addition to conducting market research and collecting information on student preferences from direct input and other colleges and universities across the country, we are expanding the format of the Student Dining Committee to get the right people talking to each other and are working with groups like the Real Food Coalition to hear from those with varied tastes and preferences.
Having students represent their constituents by providing feedback or participating in groups and committees that inform the Campus Dining team is a great way to be involved and is really helpful to us in this effort.
I think it’s important for our campus customers to understand that Campus Dining is operated by the Cal Poly Corporation (CPC), a nonprofit auxiliary organization that exists solely to support the educational mission of the university. There are no profits paid to outside entities and CPC is completely self-supporting, providing funding to the university through direct and indirect means.
In the coming months, we will continue to focus on partnering with our students, staff, faculty and food industry colleagues to gather information and input, with the goal of delivering dining options that meet the needs of the broad campus community.