With the new dining service contract between Illinois Tech and Chartwells, there came a temporary lapse in the meeting schedule of the Food Advisory Board (FAB). However, after a period of logistical sorting and deliberation, the FAB has officially resumed its regular biweekly meeting schedule to serve the purpose of relaying concerns and suggestions for on-campus dining to the staff members and administrators that can translate them into actionable changes.
Historically, FAB has operated under the dual jurisdictions of both the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and Student Government Association (SGA). Both student organizations serve as advocacy student organizations, taking the concerns of their constituents to higher officials on campus. Running FAB is just one method by which this is accomplished.
As a body operated under both organizations, FAB is chaired by the SGA senator of RHA, an elected position within the latter organization. Arkansh Singh currently fills this role and also works in SGA’s Student Life Committee, under the leadership of Vice President of Student Life Lin Abu-Amara. Both individuals were present at the most recent FAB meeting, alongside Director of Residential Dining Asa Brown, on the morning of Friday, November 2.
This meeting began with Singh relaying a couple of feedback items given at prior RHA meetings. The first item he brought up was that RHA members expressed dissatisfaction with the current bowls available at the salad bar in the Commons. Brown responded that larger bowls for the salad bar have already been ordered and “should be here any day now.”
Singh then relayed the other piece of feedback from RHA’s general body - the possibility of having a screen display the grill queue in the north pod of the Commons. As it is now, there are two displays showing this queue - both in the south pod of the Commons by the grill section. Brown responded that this issue would take longer to respond to, as it would require more infrastructural changes in the Commons. However, he did give the slightly more actionable point that Chartwells is currently working on developing a way for smartphones to be able to both order and display the status of items at the grill in the Commons, but this is still in the works and will be subject to updates.
Amara then continued the meeting by following up on a number of feedback concerns brought up at the previous FAB meeting. The first of which was the suggestion that the usage of plastic bags be replaced with paper bags in Center Court, a point brought up out of environmental stewardship. Brown responded that “those [plastic bags] will definitely be going away,” and that paper bag replacements should be expected in the coming weeks. Similarly, a suggestion to give consumers the option to not have a paper receipt printed at dining retail locations was also brought up.
Other changes Amara followed up on included reintroducing a made-to-order deli station in the Commons, to which Brown responded that this would also need to be considered, as it would require changes in existing infrastructure and staffing. Over the winter break, a number of changes to both Center Court and the Commons are planned, including moving the drink machines in the Commons to a more central location and addressing concerns over meal exchange options in Center Court (such as having vegetarian options being applicable and expanding the drink selection). Also planned for the spring 2019 semester is the opening of the café in the new Kaplan Institute building, which is planned as the replacement for the now-closed Talon’s inside of Hermann Hall.
A final follow-up worth mentioning in this article is that Chartwells is currently in discussions with several groups, including the Office of Student Affairs, SGA, and Illinois Tech Duchossois scholars over creating a system to address food insecurity on campus by having earmarked meals or funds set aside for students to use. Updates on this project will be featured in TechNews as they develop.
FAB will continue to meet on a biweekly basis to give Illinois Tech students an outlet to bring forward concerns over the state of Illinois Tech dining. The next meeting is planned for Wednesday, November 14 in an undetermined location. Before then, dining concerns can be addressed to RHA via email at [email protected]