January 9, 2009
Photo by Colleen MacPherson
Significant changes made last fall in Marquis Hall have resulted in a significant increase in the overall satisfaction of residence students in the food they're served at the University of Saskatchewan.
The results of the bi-annual residence dining survey conducted in October show a 60 per cent increase in the overall quality rating of Marquis Hall food compared to the spring 2008 survey. There was also a 42 per cent increase in the attractiveness rating of the food and a 47.6 per cent increase in how students rated the value of the residence dining program. For Greg Fowler, director of Consumer Services, the survey results prove the importance of being responsive to student feedback.
"The changes we made were in response to student input and consultation. We've identified improving the campus environment for students as a commitment in our integrated plan and this is a step in the right direction."
That sentiment was echoed by Richard Florizone, vice-president of finance and resources, who pointed out "it wasn't that long ago that I was a student and I know how much food and housing matter. It's great to see these survey results … but we have to continue to stay on top of our game to improve the student experience both inside the classroom and outside."
Fowler said the main changes made in Marquis Hall were combining the residence dining and retail food lines, preparation of meals at individual food stations by journeyman cooks and a greater focus on variety, freshness and vegetarian offerings. He attributes much of the success for the changes to food services staff, many of them long-time U of S employees "who know that as front-line people they have the most potential to ensure students are well served and have a positive experience."
The October survey asked the university's 551 residence students to rate various aspects of residence dining, including both hot and cold food flavour, appearance and variety, the level of service, cleanliness of the serving and dining areas and hours of operation. Some 158, or 28.7 per cent, of residence students responded to the survey.
Fowler added that with the university retaking control of food services from contract operator Aramark Canada in May, the institution now has more flexibility to respond to the needs and suggestions of residence students. The key now, he said, is continuous improvement to service as well as to food quality and variety.