DU Students Call for Changes to On Campus Dining

Most students who choose to attend the University of Denver have nothing but positive things to say about the school, but one of the few complaints they usually have is about the food they serve on campus.

While most students agree that food should not be a major factor on whether or not one should attend a school, many others think that the fact that the school costs so much money should lead to more variety and longer hours of service.

Sodexo, the school’s provider, is always trying to find new ways to entice the students’ taste buds, and while they are sometimes able to succeed and impress students, they never seem to get it right all the time. “We do surveys, we have comment programs and we interact with our customers, so we get a feel about what students think, what they want, where they want it, and at a value,” says Ira Simon, Resident District Manager of Denver Dining Services. “It is very important that we evaluate our program and meet those expectations.”

However it is not always just the food that is the problem, most students find it an even larger problem that they cannot get food at any hour of the day.

When students visit their friends at other universities, public or private, they often find that not only are there far more options of places to eat on campus, but they also are able to get food late into the night to cure those late night cravings, or just to be there for students who were too busy in a meeting or doing homework to get to the cafeteria earlier in the day.

The fact that during the 2010-2011 school year if one did not eat in the cafeteria before 7 pm they had to starve made many students extremely angry. There were the students who complained that at home they may not eat until 8 or 9 pm, and then there were the students who would be in class until 8 pm or had an extra-curricular activity to tend to. These students were furious that they had to either spend their own money off campus or go starving, and they were confused that a school would allow such a thing to happen.

After enough complaining, during the 2011-2012 school year students got what they wanted and made Nelson and Halls’ cafeterias stay open until 8 pm, and then Sodexo made things even better by keeping the pub have a late night option from 9-11 pm, so that there would be little excuse that a student miss their dinner.

“Aside from the extended dining hall and pub hours, the new Penrose Library is under construction, so we are thinking of different options for food in the library, and we want a menu that is good for all hours, including late night,” said Simon. “Breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night are all difficult in a small environment to have a wide variety of things, so we have to think about what we can offer to meet the students’ needs, and we are doing our best.”

Now that Sodexo and the school have given students more options and have given them the opportunity to eat their hearts out until 11 pm, what do the students think about the food?

Try as they might, many students believe Sodexo may never be able the food selection completely right, since every student has different tastes. Sophomore George Cooper says that most students are not happy with the lack of variety. “I think that a lot of the meals are extremely repetitive, which is why many students complain. I also think that a lot of the ingredients are not up to par, which is why the food is mediocre at best,” said Cooper.

Sophomore Kyle Rohrer has stated that he has difficulty eating healthy: “I have been attempting to eat healthier on campus the past two quarters, but Nelson literally makes it impossible to do so. The vegetables, especially the lettuce are terrible quality, and I either have to pretend that I am eating something else or eat fried food at the pub.”

Even if you do not want to try a salad, the other vegetarian options always have complaints attached to them. “Green beans can be dry and brown, the corn has no taste whatsoever, and steamed carrots are so steamed that they just melt and fall apart,” said Rohrer.

The school is trying its best to take action and make things better, because they are fully aware that while DU is a great institution, they also need to take into account more things besides just the academics, since they also force students to live on campus for two years and must have a meal plan. The biggest complaint students have is that if they are forced to pay around another $10,000 to live and eat on campus and students are unable to find pleasure in their food, then clearly something needs to be changed.

It sounds like changes will indeed be made, according to Ira Simon. “We are proposing changes in Nagel hall, such as adding an Asian program in the coffee area, and we want ‘Grill on the Greens’ to add ‘Chill on the Greens’ for smoothies. There will be self serve soda machines, library additions, and a new research study this spring for a food service master plan in the next two to ten years.”

This can give some hope for students in the future, and hopefully these changes can occur sooner rather than later. Unfortunately for now, the complaints may continue to pile up.



2 Responses to DU Students Call for Changes to On Campus Dining

  • Di Yao
    Di Yao says:

    I think you did a great job.This is an interesting story about the food on campus. The quotes are worthy in the story.I think it’s better to get closer to photograph the students in the dining hall and get rid off the pillar on the left side of the first photo. Also, for your second, it’s better to get these two lamps off.

  • Rhianna Dow
    Rhianna Dow says:

    I definitely identified with this article. I tranferred to DU this year from a tiny school. But the food there was so much better. Also the hours made more sense and healthy options were actually available.

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