A recent survey was conducted by staff members of The Summit regarding the satisfaction of on campus food and beverage options. Fifty-one students and faculty took the survey. The survey found that 52 percent of students and staff were satisfied with the food and beverage in the coffee shop, 50 percent were satisfied with the food and beverage in the cafeteria, and 47 percent were satisfied with the prices in the cafeteria and coffee shop. On a different note, 90 percent of individuals were satisfied with the customer service.
Sample size and number of criteria are considerations when looking at any survey. Curt Boehm, who has been the general manager of Sodexo Food Services at Rocky for 8 years, says he feels that the results are skewed.
“There’s no good, bad, or indifferent. You look at this survey and there’s satisfied or dissatisfied. We have 5 different criteria for that. When you’re looking at a survey where most of the answers are yes or no, that skews your average,” said Boehm.
Boehm says that the survey that Sodexo conducts twice a year takes a more direct approach in determining the needs of students.
“It goes through and asks stu- dents for comments. It drills it down to what styles of foods do they like. Do they want to see more Middle Eastern, do they want to see more Italian? It’s that minutia in a lot of the stuff that we get out of that so we can take that the following year or the following semester and make an action plan and use some really detailed results.”
The most recent survey that was conducted by Sodexo last Spring found that 94 percent of students were either very satisfied or satisfied with the overall with the food and service in the cafeteria. Eighty-five percent of the 119 participants were first year students.
Boehm says that Sodexo has focused on improving the overall atmosphere of the cafeteria.
“One of the biggest improvements to what we do here has been the remodel of the cafeteria. Sodexo made that partnership with Rocky Mountain College. We invested into a long term partnership and provided the funds to remodel the cafeteria. Environment makes just as big of a difference as a change in favor or a change in temperature. If you’re not comfortable or you feel like you’re in a dingy area, you’re not going to gravitate towards that or say this is top quality.”
Another change has been in the Bear’s Den area. Last year the area was changed from a grille to a coffee shop that sells Starbucks products. Boehm says that the decision was influenced by the college.
“The perspective of why we changed that was not just my perspective. It’s really come from committees and talking to leadership of the college.”
Dean of Students Brad Nason attributes the change to a movement by the college to focus on the health and wellness of students and faculty.
“We are trying to create a healthier community and healthier population and one of those ideas is to get away from a fried food area and provide healthier choices for students and faculty.”
Boehm said the next survey that will be conducted by Sodexo at the end of October will include questions regarding customer satisfaction in the coffee shop. Students left mixed reviews regarding the coffee shop in the comment section of The Summit’s survey.
One student who chose to remain anonymous due to relationships with food service staff said, “The drink options are great, but the options for food are lacking. They have snacks, but I wish they had more meals.”
A senior male student who also chose to remain anonymous said, “The existence of a coffee shop that has a limited selection of expensive beverages and mediocre service is a waste of resources and space. Considering the amount of students and faculty without meal plans, the fact that they don’t provide affordable food and beverage options with reliable service is a huge disappointment.”
Boehm said there were a number of reasons for the change.
“When we were looking at what we did before we were a grille, we were kind of a mini Subway, we were a breakfast shop, a coffee shop, and a grab and go shop. So we were doing 5 things that were mediocre. So our idea was to do less things over there and try to improve on those things. We reduced some of the hot foods and things we did in the retail area before. The idea is we wanted the customers to migrate over to the new cafeteria.”
Marian Green, manager of the campus bookstore, said that she feels the removal of the grille has had an effect on the culture in the Student Union Building.
“The renovation of the coffee shop is beautiful. I feel that the absence of the grille has changed the culture of the Student Union Building. The Student Union Building should be the hub on any campus and the grille was the hub of the sub. Faculty, staff, and guests have little access to fresh and affordable food. Most of us can’t eat a $9 all you can eat lunch. What I hear in the book- store is that people miss access to a 6 inch fresh sub sandwich. Most upperclassmen don’t stay on campus anymore for lunch, they go home.”
Boehm says that the change to the coffee shop was made to create a sense of community on campus.
“It’s supposed to be more of a community center. We want meetings and study times and a commons area that works for everyone, that provides high quality coffee and an opportunity for lunch like the grab and go, but really a community commons area that everyone can enjoy. Less about the food were providing and more about the community. It may or may not hit all the buttons of a full service grille or what people are used to before. We have created some commuter meal plans, that are basically a punch card that reduce the cost of a full meal plan. By doing that we see more faculty and staff coming over to the cafeteria.”
Both Nason and Boehm encourage students to voice their opinion.
Boehm said, “There are a couple things you can do as a student if you’re not satisfied or you’re not getting the things you need. First you have to call that to someone’s attention. At your table amongst your peers being upset about something, it’s very difficult for us to be responsive to that. If you go online to the Sodexo My Way site there is a spot to send us a quote or a comment. I would say that if you’re dissatisfied with something I always leave my office door open. Please come talk to me.”
Nason added that it is the responsibility of students to voice concerns.
“Students have a strong voice at the college. Within the context of what the college is trying to accomplish, students have a powerful voice, and if there is something they want that is not currently being offered students would simply need to communicate that and get a dialogue started. If there’s something we can do, we’ll do it for sure. I think that Sodexo has done pretty good at accommodating individual requests, but if they’re not getting those requests it becomes much more difficult.”