April 3, 2020

Insights concerning food service shared by UVSC directors

At the invitation by the College of Eastern Utah administration, representatives from the food services at Utah Valley State College visited campus to offer thoughts and insights concerning CEU’s campus food service operation.
Kenneth E. Mathews, executive director of auxiliary services and Sorensen Center; and Val Y. Brown, director of dining services; presented a list of their observations to CEU President Ryan Thomas and Vice President Brad King.

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At the invitation by the College of Eastern Utah administration, representatives from the food services at Utah Valley State College visited campus to offer thoughts and insights concerning CEU’s campus food service operation.
Kenneth E. Mathews, executive director of auxiliary services and Sorensen Center; and Val Y. Brown, director of dining services; presented a list of their observations to CEU President Ryan Thomas and Vice President Brad King.
An evaluation of the organizational structure and reporting lines in food service needs to be addressed. “Who is in charge, really?” Is reported in the document. There appears to be some disconnect between the supervisor and associate vice president.
Other needs addressed include the supervisor needs to feel empowerment and ownership, be given the appropriate perimeters, expectations, training, tools and opportunity to move the department forward and be accountable for the day-to-day operations.
A negative attitude was vocally expressed by management and staff as well as the perceptions of the department needs to be addressed, individually and collectively was listed in the document.
Mathews was concerned with the statement made often, “We have always done it that way.”
He felt that the image of food service needs to be going from a dormitory feeding location to a state of the arts cash/retail operation, one that addresses the needs of both dormitory and general cash customers. A specific vision, business plan, marketing plan, action plan implementing necessary changes, trends, etc., should address the needs and desires of the total campus population.
A concept he thought should help was concentrating on the little things; have a “merchandisable difference” attitude in total food display; use ice in chilled merchandisers to help elevate salad and dessert bar products; enhance ambience, signage, concepts interior walls, lighting throughout service area – needs maintenance and repair. Mathews wrote, “Every plate a masterpiece.”
He did not like taped or nonprofessional signage in the food service or dining areas. Also, he thought they should illuminate obstacles and address them in action plan.
Another observation concerned Vice President Dan Allen’s involvement in the athletic department seemed to take priority and attention over other responsibilities. He felt Allen should direct the Student Center with responsibility for auxiliary services, housing and the Student Center facility.
Maintenance and other campus services to food services for timely repair, painting, etc., were also addressed. Mathews mentioned an institutional support change if necessary. Allen told the UVSC observers that food service basically was on their own if the work was to be done.
Mathews thought that food service should work with student government on a positive campaign concerning the “new” food services on campus. “Have a kick off for fall semester promoting new image, restructured menu (do away with menu cycles and be creative). Introduce the new student leaders, athletic teams, cheerleaders, etc. Do whatever it takes to bring a new spirit to food services.”
He concluded with supporting the new image with a structured policy and procedure plan, training guides, written job descriptions, a posted organizational chart, etc. Change the name of the food court by involving students, faculty and staff. At kickoff, unveil the new look, logo, uniform, etc. Plus enhance the menu selections with variety combos, etc.
With attention and care given to the little things, proper training for management and staff, a change of attitude from negative to positive, and a new vision with total campus community in mind, the results will be phenomenal, he wrote.
Brown recommended changes and improvements are done in a two-phase process.
His short-term ideas included enhancing the salad bar with elevation and ice, using uniforms and hats/caps, flatware usage, reversing the cash registrar, covering the cereal bar stands (Coke crates), sign boards need to be more informative, prices and strategic areas of the food court, snack bar walls need to be cleaned up and removing the napkin from all the tables.
His long-term goals include using a six-week menu cycle, a dessert bar with two or three options, and bundle entrees with starch and veggie for a set price idea. Remove the word leftovers and inject colorful wording and adjectives that excite the mind: grilled, saut ed, stir fried, honey roasted, garden fresh and Italian spaghetti.
He thought they should change to Nicholas on-line order entry, rename Emmett’s Cove, market the food court and snack bar, place the menu online, send out fliers to the offices, subscribe to the National Association of College and University Food Services and send key employees to seminars to get important information and in-service training.

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