Opening the door to dietary discussions

Published in FSD Update

Concerned parents visiting campus and an increased number of students enrolling with special dietary needs propelled the dining services staff at Eastern Washington University, in Cheney, to host a series of open forums for students to share dietary concerns. The forums allow students to start establishing relationships with dining services staff so that they feel comfortable asking for what they need throughout the year, while learning more about the university’s meal offerings and nutritional labeling.

“Some students are great with monitoring themselves,” says Dave McKay, director of dining services, “but we’re here to help if they need guidance and to learn who each of us is face-to-face so that they are comfortable coming to us with questions.”

This is the third year for the program, which consists of two forums held at the start of the fall semester. Throughout the year “we work with the residential life [department] if they run into something, and contact information is available on the website,” McKay explains. “We see the largest number at the first [forum] with incoming freshmen. The second will be a smaller number where [students share] more specific needs.”

The forums have allowed dining services to better accommodate students by including clear, specific nutritional information on meal items. “The biggest thing we’re seeing is awareness of gluten sensitivity,” McKay says. “Based on that, we’ve increased highlighting more gluten-free items, different breads and buns, and [are] working with providers to see what’s available in the marketplace.” The team has even gone so far as to find out where and what students eat when they’re off campus so that similar items may be made available.

“People don’t like to be singled out, and we don’t want to do that,” he adds. The forums offer an “opportunity to know who the staff is, what we currently do and how [the students] can help us in the future to meet their needs.” 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
amazon prime delivery

About 90% of our students receive financial assistance and participate in our free and reduced-price meal program. But a number of students in our district study remotely due to circumstances such as chronic illness. In January, we hired a driver to deliver meals to students who aren’t able to step into our cafeteria each day.

Ideas and Innovation
wheaton emerson int salad bar

Restaurant design is all about catching a customer’s eye —and it’s sometimes particularly beneficial to be far-sighted. As Airbnb has proven with its San Francisco headquarters, where cafe spaces are inspired by cities like Cairo and Mumbai, elaborate design schemes that evoke far-flung geographic regions can be done to great effect. But operators are finding simpler ways to achieve that feel.

That’s been the experience of Kutztown University Dining Services in Pennsylvania. Kent Dahlquist, director of housing and dining services, says that when the university decided several years...

Managing Your Business
overtime payroll timesheet

Just eight days before Dec. 1, when operators would have to comply with the U.S. Department of Labor’s new overtime rules, a federal judge in Texas slapped an injunction on the regulation. The move indefinitely halted the rules that would have doubled the overtime threshold to $47,476, affecting nearly 4.2 million workers, according to the DOL. For some operators, the move was too little, too late. Now, they have to answer to employees who had been briefed on promised wage increases.

Kansas Memorial Union at the University of Kansas in Lawrence made changes ahead of the deadline...

Ideas and Innovation
ucmc model

With a budget and timeline in place, and the support of the university behind them, the foodservice team at the University of Chicago Medical Center was ready to get rolling with the renovation of one of its patient services kitchens. The facility, which services the hospital’s Center for Care and Discovery and Comer Children’s Hospital, was tripling in size to serve two additional patient floors, to the tune of $9 million. But that didn’t mean immediately jumping in with steel and screws.

“First, we cut out scaled pieces of paper and moved things around,” says Elizabeth Lockwood,...

FSD Resources