The Pitiful Campus Dining Experience
When I was a waiter at a local pizza parlor, the area manager would come in once every two weeks and give the restaurant an inspection. He would watch us through the course of an evening, and when the crowds subsided, he would gather us all around and give us our review. At the onset of every debriefing, as they were called among the crew, the first words from his mouth would always be, "From the moment the customer enters those doors, his dining experience begins. He will form an opinion in his mind about us, and it is your job to make sure that opinion is good! If it isn't, I'll know about it, and then so will you."
Even though my experiences at that restaurant are a year behind me, whenever I eat out I always keep in mind the customer's opinion -- especially when I am the customer. When State students eat at the campus facilities, they form opinions about their dining experience just as any customer would, and whether that opinion is good or bad is the responsibility of the food service. Recently I conducted a survey to determine the student opinion of the food service at State. My purpose was simply to see if the students were satisfied with the overall performance of Service America, the catering company that handles all of the campus dining facilities.
I surveyed fifty students over a period of two days at different times and locations. All of those I surveyed ate at least occasionally at one of the dining facilities. The survey rated such aspects as variety, quality, and taste of the food offered as well as the student's opinion of the prices they paid and overall service they received. The ratings given were initially somewhat mediocre.
When rating the food's variety, quality, and taste separately, 67.3 percent rated them as fair, with 13.3 percent rating them as excellent and 19.3 percent rating them as poor. As far as the price of the food was concerned, 54 percent thought it was higher than average, while 46 percent thought it was average. No one said it was lower than average. Overall service was viewed as fair by 60 percent, with 20 percent calling it either excellent or poor.
These results might lead one to believe that there are no strong student complaints with the food services at State, assuming of course that only an overall rating of fair is considered adequate by both the students and the university. However, as I explored the results further I discovered somewhat different conclusions. Of the individuals surveyed, 56 percent felt strong enough in their opinions, either good or bad, to make comments in the space provided at the bottom of the survey. Seventy-five percent of these comments were negative!
What makes these results so important is the fact that such a large number of those surveyed felt strong enough to make comments at all, and that the majority of those comments were negative. Furthermore, those...