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Students Ask, Aramark Answers

By Haley McCord
On October 5, 2015


October has arrived and the Campus Beautiful will soon unveil its true colors and leaves of orange, red and yellow will flood the sidewalks. We all want to focus on the positive, but unfortunately, the Campus Beautiful is not so beautiful everywhere. Several Concord students have openly complained and expressed their concern for the cafeteria food. The Concordian Newspaper took these questions and concerns into consideration and passed them on to the Aramark representatives to get their side of the story.

Some students have noticed that several foods are re-served in the cafeteria throughout the day and days after. For example: pancakes are frequently served during breakfast and then again as dessert in the evening. Many want to know the grace period for food. How many days is it appropriate to serve food before throwing it out? Aramark responded with, “Dining Services have many waste management practices in place including conducting waste audits and forecasting to ensure minimal waste in our program. In the event that we do have some leftovers during a meal period, we will re-serve or repurpose the item to avoid food waste. Leftovers are only reserved for one time and the appropriate steps for storage and reheating are followed.”

Although controlling waste is an important part of management, an anonymous student observed one particular occasion where food was prepared days in advance and served more than once before it was finally thrown out.

Many students have also complained about the lack of diversity in the cafeteria. Students would almost prefer a fruit bar over a dessert bar because the desserts typically taste dry and stale. Is it possible to have a fruit bar or change the desserts? Aramark says, “Because we try our best to take everyone’s tastes and feedback into consideration, we rotate items, including our fruit and dessert selections, to provide a range of options. Fresh fruit is offered daily at breakfast and a rotating fruit option is available during lunch and dinner at the Panini station. Desserts are a staple in our menu so we will follow up our culinary team to ensure dessert recipes are being followed and that our dessert options are of the highest quality.”

Although Aramark claims that fruit is rotated daily at the Panini station, students claim that fruit is only available sometimes. Another student posting on the anonymous social media app Yik Yak regretfully explains that “The cake is always dry and the chocolate desserts always taste weird.”

Diversity is not only a problem with the cold-cut meats but also the vegetarian options. Kim Lowery, a Concord Junior and vegetarian of three years, says, “I wish there were more vegetarian options besides salad. It’s hard to find something I can eat every day; I’m typically forced to eat the same thing day after day unless the special that day is tofu. Unfortunately, the tofu never lives up to expectations either.”

There was an uproar in the cafeteria last year concerning the lack of shredded cheese on the salad bar. Many were devastated to see this seemingly small but essential component removed from the bar; some have even mentioned the lack of shredded cheese at Student Government Association meetings with hopes that this can be changed. Students want to know why shredded cheese was removed from the salad bar’s line-up. Aramark says, “Swiss and American cheese are offered on the panini station along with American cheese on the salad bar. Parmesan cheese is offered daily at the pizza station.” This response neglected to address the issue of shredded cheese. Just because there are sliced cheese options does not mean the problem is solved; sliced sandwich cheeses are not desirable choices for soups and salads.

There is also a lack of diversity in cold cut meats in the cafeteria, particularly at the sandwich station. Students wish there was more variety instead of only turkey and ham. They want to know, is there a way to provide more variety like pepperoni, salami, chicken and bologna? Aramark says, “We track waste and movement of menu items in our forecasting process and bologna and roast beef, which were featured previously at the deli, were not popular with students and thus removed from the menu. We can consider rotating a specialty cold cut option in our normal rotation to increase variety.” Rotating a specialty cold cut option would definitely make the Panini station more desirable for those who prefer sandwiches over the hot bar. However, many students complain that the Panini press never fully heats their sandwiches leaving them with a warm sandwich around the edges and still cold in the middle.

Rumors have danced around campus this semester concerning new renovations of the student center and the possibility of adding a Chick-fil-A. Are there plans to bring Chick-fil-A to campus? Students want more choices in how they utilize their flex meal plan, and would love to have a new place to eat on campus. If these plans are in action, when can we expect to see changes? Aramark says, “There is limited space on campus for new renovations and construction so currently there are no plans for a Chick-fil-A on campus, however there is a Chick-fil-A coming to Princeton, WV. A new restaurant is opening soon beside the Deli Mart in Athens.”

When asked if Aramark thought students were satisfied with the options given in the cafeteria, they replied with “We do our best to meet the wants and needs of our students and the campus community. We value student feedback and that helps shape the program we provide. We are always soliciting student feedback via our online comment card and DiningStyles survey and always encourage students to speak with our management team in residential and retail if you have any comments or suggestions.”

Many students have opinions and suggestions for cafeteria food abd want to be heard but don't know where to voice these concerns. When asked how students can give feedback, Aramark said, “YOURDININGVOICE.COM. Student feedback is extremely important to us as we work to provide a dining program that meets the needs of the campus community. We offer an online comment card at This website can be used at any time for any of our locations to provide feedback on what we are doing right and what we can do better. This feedback comes directly to our management team and influences our menus and the programs on campus. In addition, we conduct a DiningStyles survey every year. This is a comprehensive survey that allows our team to get the most in depth feedback from the campus community on our program. This survey comes out in October so please be looking out for that. Also, feel free to speak with any of our management team to provide feedback; reach out to us when you are in our locations or our contact information is available on our Campusdish website at”

All Concord students are strongly encouraged to visit the sites mentioned and voice your opinion! Comment cards should always be available for pick-up inside the cafeteria, at Subway, Starbucks and Wingspan. It only takes a few minutes to complete the online survey and it would help Aramark to better the cafeteria for everyone. Be completely honest in the responses and Aramark can work to fix many of the problems that students have.

Although the food may not excite and several students wish for more variety, the staff members greet every student that enters with a genuine smile and students love that about the cafeteria. Concord’s cafeteria has some wonderful staff members and it’s important to recognize them for all they do. The food may not always ignite the senses, but the people always warm the heart.

Aramark was able to leave one last comment about the cafeteria and their services: “Again, we encourage students to provide feedback via the outlets we mentioned previously. We are always open to enhancing our program to meet the needs of the campus community.” For more information about Aramark, contact Randy Keaton, the Director of Dining Services, and he will forward any questions you may have to an Aramark representative. 

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