Dining flexibility increases meal plan sales

Published in FSD Update

Students at Lynn University, in Boca Raton, Fla., are reaping the benefits of their new 24-hour dining access. And because of the new dining hours, they’re enjoying new class schedules, too.

Under the previous foodservice provider, the standard 19 weekly meals were only available during specific breakfast, lunch and dinner hours and within a separate late-night facility. The format forced the university to develop schedules around the dining hours to ensure students had enough time to eat. This, however, left the university with few options for mid-day and evening classes. That all changed when Sodexo came on board during the summer of 2013.

Sodexo also opened up dining hours to allow for 24-hour access—causing a shift not just for the dining program but also for the university. As students can now satisfy food needs at any time of the day, the university is no longer limited when developing class schedules and has begun to offer classes at times previously blocked for eating. Students wishing to eat on the meal plan can now build schedules to their liking, choosing classes during the standard mid-day lunchtime or later in the evening if they prefer.

Before the university tried “not to schedule things during the lunch hour,” explains Brian Bowser, general manager of dining services for Sodexo at Lynn. But with 24-hour access, “students are given the opportunity to eat when they want, they don’t have to have that block of time, and the university is finding that students are inclined to have class later in the day,” a time when commuter students typically attend classes.

The change has been “phenomenal,” Bowser says. “Customer feedback and response has been great and [there’s been an] increase in student satisfaction, meal plans being utilized and meal plan sales.”

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
phone bed call sick

We make people call and directly talk to their boss or supervisor if they are reporting an absence for a shift. While it is more cumbersome, it is a conscious decision. We have adapted and implemented electronic methods to obtain efficiencies in just about every other functional area, except for electronic absence reporting systems. The direct supervisor can put more pressure on an employee to show up—especially those with some form of the “Super Bowl plague”—than any electronic system can.

Menu Development
ranch dressing chicken fingers

While salad bars are often the first place K-12 operators look to incorporate more fresh produce, few go as far as making their own salad dressings. But last fall, in a continuing effort to transition from prepackaged meals to an all-scratch menu, Mark Augustine, executive chef of culinary and nutrition services for Minneapolis Public Schools, switched to concocting four varieties in-house—ranch, Caesar, Italian and Asian vinaigrette. The move, designed to eliminate artificial ingredients and lower fat and sodium, presented the biggest challenge when it came to ranch dressing, the school-...

Ideas and Innovation
business card

We get the new folks abridged business cards saying, “Hi, my name is so-and-so and I work in nutrition department.” We thought it would give them more ownership of the program and elevate their status and position in the organization. It also gives our team more self-confidence and self-worth as an employee, which can be a challenge with foodservice workers.

Ideas and Innovation
tug hospital robot

Automation has opened up in recent years as foodservice operators across the country grapple with labor shortages. Robots deliver food trays to patients in hospitals, and they make sushi on college campuses. For some operators, they’re worthwhile to reduce strain on human employees and increase productivity.

Robots roamed the hallways when the University of California San Francisco Medical Center’s new Mission Bay campus opened last year. Though these robots have nicknames like Wall-E and Tuggie McFresh, they’re not a novelty. They’re a solution to a problem that administrators...

FSD Resources