On Friday, February 26, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. CST, the Food Advisory Board held their monthly meeting. Present at the meeting were Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President of Student Life Jeannina Villalobos, Illinois Tech Dining Executive Chef Svenska Lindroth, and Resident District Manager Steven Goodwin.
Many topics were discussed during the meeting. The session started with an announcement from Illinois Tech Dining about them hosting an upcoming Illinois Tech Dining event called “On Sight Insight” which will take place on March 16-17, 2021. SGA, the Office of Residence Life, and Greek Life will also be involved in this event. Another event that Illinois Tech Dining is preparing for is Union Board’s annual Late Niite event, which they are working with Director of Campus Life Rachel Hirsh.
The Commons will be serving “Tik Tok tortillas” in their pasta station.
The Dining will also be selling care packages and gift bags for finals week, which students/parents can purchase for other students for $20-$60. A pick-up can be scheduled for these packages. They also might include some Illinois Tech swag from the Bookstore.
Next, Villalobos brought up food-related complaints, reports, and questions which were pulled from posts on the Illinois Tech Student Community (ITSC) Facebook page.
Students reported that some of the food inside the vending machines on campus were months past their “best by” (expiration) date, yet still were being sold from the machines. While Illinois Tech Dining Services does not oversee the vending machines (the Access, Card, and Parking Services office does), Goodwin offered to help look into this issue.
Another concern that students brought up is that there are limited ways to learn about nutrition facts about food from the Commons. Goodwin and Lindroth mentioned that the Dine On Campus app is the best source to learn about this information as of right now. Currently, there are student-led initiatives and even an ongoing IPRO to develop better methods on getting nutrition information from Commons food. If you are a part of these initiatives or if you have questions about this issue, please contact Goodwin by email at [email protected] or by call at 312-567-5245.
The next concern brought up was the poor food quality from meals and services from Chartwells. Students reported that Chartwells is serving lower quality food than other restaurants/campus dining. In the Facebook discussion on this topic which can be found at https://bit.ly/37UiICV, students talked about how there were less food options for students with food sensitivities, allergies, and dietary restrictions during weekends, cross-contamination, high amounts of grease, milk that wasn’t very fresh, and overall lack of variety in the food. This led to a long discussion on what can be done to ensure higher quality of food.
Illinois Tech Dining replied that often, certain foods that adhere to certain restrictions can be quite expensive. However, they requested that students let them know if they are facing these kinds of issues. If a student has any questions or concerns on anything regarding the food preparation, they are free to directly ask for the manager/supervisor in the Commons to get clarification or ensure food restocking. Students are even allowed to ask to visit the kitchen if they want to learn how their food is prepared. There are “no secrets,” as the Illinois Tech Dining team put it. The easiest way to report a food quality issue is the Dine On Campus app and through social media. There are signs posted that have links to websites and apps where you can provide feedback anonymously. A service called “TEXT TO SOLVE” will be added so that students can text the chef directly about any issues with the food being served.
As for the lack of variety in the food, Illinois Tech Dining said that COVID has affected their offerings this past year, and thus a lot of sections have been closed. However, if a student has a suggestion for a food item or recipe they want to see being served, they are encouraged to let the Dining team know.
Finally, the topic of meal plans was brought up. Students have been complaining that people who have an in-unit kitchen in their dorm are forced to still have an expensive meal plan, which they do not need. In the past, several students have tried without success to advocate for students with dorm kitchens to have an option to choose if they want the Hawk 50 meal plan. The Illinois Tech Dining team is currently actively working on getting this issue finally resolved with customizable approaches depending on students’ living conditions.