Xavier’s Dining Advisory Board discusses potential Hoff Dining Hall updates
By Mattie Cielpak, Staff Writer
Students, faculty and staff at Xavier were invited to join a Dining Advisory Board in September to discuss their opinions and issues regarding dining on campus.
Em Daniels, retail marketing manager for auxiliary services, serves as part of the committee who runs the board. Daniels explained that the Dining Advisory Board is meant to connect students to dining throughout campus and allow their voices to be heard.
The mission statement of the program reads, “The intention is not to focus on the daily missteps and the individual preferences, but to focus on the overall vision and improvement of the campus.”
“We just want to do the best we can for our students,” Daniels said.
Following the idea, a committee of dining employees was formed.
Then, it was all about getting people on campus involved. The board is comprised of students, faculty and staff alike, all with different backgrounds and goals on campus.
Once the board started meeting, it began tackling the bigger picture of dining.
Daniels said, “We just really want to get this feedback from people in their everyday, all different walks of life – different dietary restrictions, different preferences.”
Daniels said that the feedback and open dialogue to help make dining experience better at Xavier is invaluable.
The other dining employees on the board are Assistant Director of Dining Ryan Alan, Senior Director of Dining Services Justin Messina and Executive Chef of Campus Dining Tom Turnbull.Everyone else on the board, including other faculty and staff, are volunteers.
One member is Dr. Laura Carney, an exercise science professor.
Carney was drawn to the Dining Advisory Board primarily because she used to teach a course that included a project that evaluated the nutritional value of the food in Hoff Dining Commons.
Carney said that she has always been interested in food quality when it came to what she consumed. For that reason, when she does decide to dine at the Caf, she finds herself perusing the gluten-free section.
“You could get fresh steamed veggies, much better cooked chicken, and it was just more clean foods,” Carney said.
When it comes to the board, Carney’s priority is ensuring quality food for all college students, not just those with food allergies.
“I just think there’s a lot more opportunity for our campus to coordinate with more sustainable options, more nutrient-dense foods, as well as provide students an opportunity to explore their palettes better, younger,” Carney said.
In meetings, Carney feels tentatively positive about the changes that are being discussed.
“It’s hard to say what they’re implementing because things take time. What I can say is that they’re coming with ideas and then taking genuine feedback,” Carney said.
Carney said she did not expect to be as involved as she ended up being in the meetings. She credited some of that involvement to the questions being asked and to the overall authentic feel of the board.
The consensus of the board is that healthier, better-quality food is necessary on campus.
However, Carney emphasized the cost that may accompany those changes that are not always seen.
“There needs to be a perspective of a small change really is a big change. Even just changing one ingredient can mean thousands of dollars,” Carney explained.
Carney said that the fact that the board is attempting to make change in a fiscally responsible way is ultimately hopeful.
Carney also mentioned how important it was that people share feedback regarding the dining experience.
“If the students don’t collectively have a stronger voice on what they want, the changes that they want to happen won’t happen,” Carney emphasized.