Free food for thought

Brittany Moseley

Nine students get to say what they want about Kent State’s food, dining options

Clinton Dugan eats for free every week.

Dugan is a member of Dining Services’ general food committee. The committee gives students $25 a week to eat at any on-campus dining location and then evaluate the place on things like menu choice, temperature, appearance and price.

Dining Services still needs students for the general and the healthy food committees. Four students are on the healthy food committee, and five are on the general committee. Students do not have to live in the residence halls to join.

“It’s a great way to get your opinions out there,” said Dugan, senior marketing major. “If it’s something (Dining Services) feels needs to get done, they will do it.”

The committees are funded through Kent Interhall Council and Dining Services.

Josh Kropko, vice president of leadership development for Kent Interhall Council, said although only a few students have signed up, he thinks by the end of next week, the committees will be filled.

Besides evaluating different dining locations, students on the committees also attend weekly meetings to discuss topics like nutrition, etiquette and what goes into making a menu.

“We’re trying to introduce students to food so that they kind of understand what they’re talking about when we talk about change of food or the different menu items,” said Andrea Spandonis, head of the general food committee.

Once a semester the committees visit a different college to see what other dining services are like. Last semester the groups visited Cleveland State University.

“Often it’s a school that isn’t exactly like ours so we see stuff that we can bring back here,” said David Harris junior business management major.

The general food committee started in the ’80s, and at first, the reaction wasn’t positive, said John Goehler, assistant director of Dining Services.

“All I remember was there was a whole lot of animosity,” Goehler said.

Now though, managers at the dining areas look at the evaluations as a way to improve, he said.

“They really want to know the students’ opinions,” said Harris, a third-year member of the general food committee. “They’re going do whatever they can to make you happy.”

The healthy food committee started three years ago in response to the growing number of vegetarians and vegans on campus. Goehler, who is in charge of the healthy food committee, said although vegans and vegetarians are a small group on campus, it’s important that Dining Services caters to their needs.

“It’s a small group, but when they voice concerns we want to try to take care of them because they are part of the food plan,” Goehler said.

Because of the healthy food committee, Eastway must always offer a vegetarian option at lunch and dinner, and Rosie’s Diner must display its vegetarian and vegan options by the order kiosks.

The goal of the food committees is to educate students and get them involved with Dining Services. Not only do the committees help students, but they also help Dining Services.

“When people are going in and trying new things, it just forces us to be better,” Goehler said. “That’s what I tell the committee: You’re helping Dining Services become better.”

Contact room and board reporter Brittany Moseley at [email protected].