Dining services, SGA partner up to improve campus cuisine

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The University Grill is just one of the food locations that may be undergoing changes in the next few months.  Preface photo/Nick Wort
The University Grill is just one of the food locations that may be undergoing changes in the next few months.
Preface photo/Nick Wort

Staff Writer

IU South Bend’s dining services will see changes in the upcoming months thanks to a new committee forming between the Student Government Association (SGA) and dining services.

“This is our way of communicating with the student body and getting information back,” said Ziggy Pairitz, director of dining services. “It’s difficult with a campus this size and with the demographics of this campus. It’s so varied, from your traditional student to your commuter student who’s trying to advance themselves. That’s why we go to the SGA, because they are the official representation.”

The committee will be headed by an SGA senator. The group will meet at least once a month, be composed of members of the SGA and dining services and will receive input from various on campus clubs, according to Matt Kavanagh, vice president of the SGA.

“One of the biggest things is the relationships that clubs at IUSB have with dining services,” Kavanagh said. “The prices are high, sometimes it’s hard to contact them and get exactly what they want, sometimes the service isn’t the best. We want to improve dining services for the students at IUSB. Ziggy seems willing to work with us to try and get some of these conflicts resolved.”

Students eating at the University Grill. Preface photo/Nick Wort
Students eating at the University Grill. Preface photo/Nick Wort

According to Kavanagh, the committee was scheduled to be officially formed on Feb. 14. Both Pairitz and Kavanagh noted that students can expect to see changes soon. Both expect changes in menu items, hours of operation and possibly the implementation of a meal plan.

“I’ve been working towards the development of a meal plan for housing and even possibly the general population,” Pairitz said. “That’s a big ticket item I’m working on right now. I’d like to get their input to see how we can proceed forward with that.”

Kavanagh noted that he would like to see a better relationship between on-campus clubs and dining services, as well as improved relations between students and dining services.

“What I want to see is a simplified process for clubs and even students that want to eat on this campus. Right now, there’s not a good working relationship. Students are not satisfied, and I want students to be satisfied with the food options on campus,” Kavanagh said. “I really want to implement ideas that students know about, and that make them happy and proud of our dining service.”

Ryan Vanderwall, retail manager of dining services, said he was looking forward to receiving student input and making the appropriate changes.

“To us, [the committee] is a vital role that needs to be there,” Vanderwall said. “It’s something that just needs to exist. It’s like the gas in your car. It gives us more checks and balances, also. We are part of the community and we want to get students’ opinions, because students are the ones that are actually going to be eating the vast majority of the food.”

“I think that food plays such a vital role in culture,” Vanderwall continued. “It’s part of a social culture where you get to engage with people. I hope to actually create a food culture with students, to actually be able to try different foods…There’s a lot of diversity here when it comes to cultures and backgrounds, so it would be nice to actually see some of those recipes in the mix.”

According to Pairitz, Sodexo forms these committees at all of the schools the company services. The committee at IUSB had not yet been formed because Sodexo’s management of on-campus food has started only recently.

Students on campus seem open to possible changes from dining services.

“We should have input for food-related things, especially from students and all the people dealing with it. I think its a really good thing” said Brandon Strandz, an IUSB student.

“I think its a very good thing, because students are here all hours of the day, and you get hungry. It’s nice when they coordinate,” said Crystal Ensz, another IUSB student.

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