Western Washington University students and faculty shared their opinions on campus dining services at “Shape the Future of Dining at Western” on Thursday, March 31.
The focus sessions were hosted by Leonard Jones, the director of Western’s University Residences, and David Porter, a food service management consultant, in Academic West 210. Porter is also the president and chief executive officer of Porter Khouw Consulting.
During the sessions, Porter asked students and faculty about their dining habits and how they used campus dining services. A discussion followed Porter’s questions, and he asked attendees follow-up questions.
The end of each session was concluded with a survey asking attendees about how they would rate their campus dining experience and what words would describe their ideal dining experience. In the second session, the survey revealed that most attendees believe the dining program and the meal plans were fair to poor value.
Between the two student sessions, about 25 students participated. Multiple students expressed their dissatisfaction with dining hall hours and how they are required to have a meal plan if they live on campus. Other students said they have concerns about the content of dining hall food and accessibility for individuals with allergies.
Some students said they have ethical issues with Aramark Corporation, the foodservice provider that manages dining services at Western. Specifically, they said they heard about negative experiences from student employees employed by Aramark.
In the first focus session, Jones said he would like to see dining halls incorporate Western’s values of diversity by dining halls serving food from different cultures.
According to Porter, Western hired him to give the university a recommendation on how they should proceed with campus dining services. Porter said he plans to send a survey out to learn more about how students and faculty use campus dining services and their opinions on its current state.
Sol Vandeman (they/he) is the campus life editor for The Front this quarter. They’re a sophomore currently pursuing a major in journalism with a minor in women, gender and sexuality studies. Sol would describe themselves as the “Elle Woods” of The Front. As a reporter, they focused on art and social justice at Western. Outside of journalism, Sol enjoys doing drag and religiously listening to pop music divas. Their Instagram is @solasinthesun.