Little food for thought comes from SGA’s hearing on Chartwells’ food

Posted December 5, 2017

A lot of UW-River Falls students gripe about the food on campus and how it’s served, but only one of them showed up last week at the Student Government Association’s weakly publicized hearing with officials from Chartwells, the campus’ new food contractor.

Chartwells serves 2,900 students and is one year into its seven-year contract. This new dining service boasts of using fresh and not canned or frozen ingredients, unlike previous dining service providers.

Representatives from dining services, Cara Rubis and Sue Beotthcher, along with Chartwells District Manager Michael O’Donnel, attended the Tuesday night meeting to answer students’ and SGA members’ questions about the dining services offered on campus. Only one non-SGA student was in attendance for the meeting. Chartwells, who have been serving food to students since the start of their contract in the fall of 2015 first stated that even with the change in dining service providers and with the many new changes they have implemented, meal plan rates have not increased and 400 more students have meal plans this year.

Among some of the changes Chartwells has implanted have been to use more fresh ingredients in recipes, expanded Einstein’s Bagels, there is a registered dietician, Kayla Holicky, is now on staff, concessions at the new Falcon Center and David Smith stadium, and a new all-access meal plan with unlimited entry.

Beotthcher stressed that Chartwells has many sanitation and operations processes in place to ensure that the kitchen and dining area are safe and clean for employees and diners. Among the checks and balances in place to maintain health and safety of dining services are frequent temperature checks of food every 2-4 hours, a new allergen station with separate utensils and tools all labeled with the color purple, and more staff to keep tables wiped clean.

While there was a lack of students in attendance of this meeting, members of the Student Government Association were prepared with their own questions and concerns as well as comments from their friends and peers.

One of the most important questions brought up by the Student Government senators was food and the training associated with employees who work in Pete’s Creek. Senator JJ Knapp complained about how she and others have been served frozen food on multiple occasions. Beotthcher recommends that anytime there is something wrong with your dining experience, to contact them through their text to solve program or by email which will go directly through to management.

Among other tops issues that members of the SGA raised to the Chartwells representatives were the higher price of transfer meals and food in Riverside commons, the meal plan requirement even for students living in campus housing equipped with kitchens, and how staff are trained for the job.

Parking Services representative and Chief of Police Karl Fleury was also in attendance to answer questions about campus parking. Fleury spoke about how the new parking budget, which is available for students to read, and noted that segregated fees do not go to parking services. Senators again had the chance to ask questions to Fleury and focused their inquires on parking passes, parking accommodations for students with disabilities and education majors with have required observation hours.