Dining Services to improve nutrition facts



Kent State students order salads, a healthier option, at “The Slice” in the Hub on Thursday evening, Oct. 16, 2013. Photo by Melanie Nesteruk.

Lyndsey Schley

Freshman exploratory major Jabril Brown said he is health conscious, but the environment on a college campus can make it difficult to eat well.

“You’re up studying all the time, which leaves you up for late-night cravings, and you have to eat constantly,” Brown said. “Eastway, where I live, if you look in the right areas, you can find (healthy food), but it’s mostly junk food presented in front of you.”

While college students are encouraged to pay attention to what they eat when eating out, not every dining location on campus has offered complete nutritional information this semester.

In an analysis of 16 dining locations from the Student Center Hub to the eateries in residence halls, availability of nutritional information varies between locations.

Some locations posted nutritional information on location and online, while others offered none.

Dining Services Director Rich Roldan said the university’s initiative to provide nutritional information has been a work in progress. Recent changes in the department have led to some missing information.

During the first four weeks of class, the Dining Services website posted no menus for Eastway Café, Prentice Café or Kent Markets 1 and 2. Kent State Dining Services has a management contract with Sodexo, which allows the school to use some of their national contracts.

In the past, the menus at cafeterias on campus have run on a rotation, but now they create new menus frequently because specials created by the chefs require different menus almost every other day, Roldan said.

“We look every week at local ingredients, look at what’s available,” Roldan said. “We’re creating menus on basically a weekly basis.”

This has not been the only problem with the website in the last semester. Difficulties with the website have ranged from failures with online menus to confusion surrounding the nutritional calculator, which Dining Services recently added to allow users to search for the nutritional information of foods sold on campus.

Finding results on the nutritional calculator might be confusing if a student does not know the exact name of the food item. The iPhone and iPad cannot completely load the calculator, and Android had trouble loading the Dining Services home page, making it difficult to get to the calculator or any other nutritional information. The Student Recreation and Wellness Center’s page also has been unavailable from the site’s main menu.

“We’re trying to transition to a website where our own staff can go in and upload it because we’re having so many challenges,” Roldan said.

The new website will be provided by Sodexo, Roldan said, but Dining Services staff will be able to update the website themselves, allowing them to post their regular menu changes. Kent State is in line to receive its own website from the service and Roldan said they hope to receive it by next semester, if not sooner.

For mobile nutrition information, Roldan suggested using the app “My Fitness Pal” and searching the term “sodexo” and the name of the food. Roldan also said he hopes, by next semester, to display barcodes for foods at Prentice Café, Eastway Café and Rosie’s Diner that, when scanned, will allow smartphone users view that food’s nutritional information.

Sodexo did not return calls seeking comment.

Quaker Steak and Lube is run through its corporate office. The Stater was unable to contact the marketing department. However, a phone call to their customer-service line did confirm they only provide limited nutritional information and allergen information at this time.

Contact Lyndsey Schley at [email protected].