Students show increasing satisfaction with café, sample shows

Greg Gancarz

Editor

On Tuesday, Jan. 23, Parkland’s dining service partner Chartwells hosted several student and faculty focus groups to learn about their opinions on the campus dining services available.

The campus dining services stated this was designed to “provide candid feedback on the current dining services offered on campus and to gather ideas for future enhancements.”

From 10 a.m.–5 p.m., various groups were interviewed. Students and staff had to register for the sessions prior to the scheduled times. Those who participated were rewarded with cards that are redeemable for two free meals at the Parkland café in the U-wing, run by Chartwells.

The overall satisfaction of the café has been a topic of varying concern for students over recent years. A poll conducted in 2015 by the Prospectus showed that 66 percent of 50 students polled were dissatisfied with the Parkland café.

In a recent unofficial poll conducted this January by the Prospectus, only 27 percent of students expressed overall dissatisfaction with the café. Those who were polled were approached randomly on campus throughout the week in an attempt to prevent grouping error. They were asked to base their answer off the over quality, availability, selection, and service.

Fifty-seven percent of students said that they were satisfied with the café. The remaining 17 percent said they were neutral on the subject.

The two polls reflect a nine percent increase in overall student satisfaction with the Parkland café. When comparing feedback for the two studies, the general complaints remain similar, however.

Kristopher Rhoads, a student studying criminal justice, said in the 2015 poll, “My thoughts are that Parkland pretty much offers snacks, or ‘gap’ food, until you can go get yourself some food.”

Student Alex Pryde-Wate said that the food was “good quality, but pricey,” in the 2015 study as well.

An anonymous student recently reflected similar opinions about the café’s pricing in last month’s study.

“I think the food is good but sometimes they just let it sit out for a while and it gets stale and kind of dried out. Overall it’s good food but for what they’re charging for it, I don’t think we should have to deal with that. That’s my main complaint. Besides that, I think it’s a great cafeteria,” the student said.

Another student polled this month said he was satisfied, but wished the café provided more hot entrees. Currently, the only consistent hot foods available for purchase are items like taco bowls, burgers, sandwiches, and fries. However, the café does offer unique entrees that generally vary from day to day such as pastas.

For another student, one visit was enough to convince them it is better to eat elsewhere, even if it means just going to a vending machine.

“I’ve only been there once. It was expensive so now I just don’t go there. [I get food] from the vending machines mostly,” they said.

While vending machines may be cheap and easily accessible, the Parkland café does pride itself on offering healthier food alternatives.

In 2015, Chartwells described their “health, wellness, and sustainability platform…designed to provide healthy meals through enhanced menu development and educational wellness tools.”

On the other hand, some of Parkland’s students and staff simply do not have a need, or desire, to eat at the Parkland café.

“I’m only here for, like, two hours,” said another Parkland student. “I eat at home before or after class so I’ve never really needed to eat here.”

For more information on Chartwells’ services at Parkland, visit dineoncampus.com/parkland.