The Signal

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Sunday November 28th

BREAKING: Following recent concerns, Stallings addresses on-campus dining improvements

<p><em>Stallings&#x27; email mentioned several steps the College is taking to improve the dining experience of College students, including a dining ambassador program, more flex points and a number that students can message with any concerns they have (campuslife.tcnj.edu). </em></p>

Stallings' email mentioned several steps the College is taking to improve the dining experience of College students, including a dining ambassador program, more flex points and a number that students can message with any concerns they have (campuslife.tcnj.edu).

By Alessia Contuzzi 
Staff Writer

Due to the many concerns about on-campus dining, students were given details about improved food quality and safety, management, staffing and new programs in an Oct. 7 email sent by Sean Stallings, vice president of Student Affairs and observer of dining services.

Sodexo, the College’s food distribution, services and management company, is said to be working closely with the College regarding the campus community’s urgent concerns with dining on-campus. The email opened with reassurance that on-campus dining focuses on safety and quality. 

“Sodexo management has investigated all issues raised and is confident that it has met and continues to meet or exceed standards,” Stallings said in the email. “An unannounced visit by the Ewing Township Board of Health last week corroborated this finding. Sodexo will continue its rigorous training on food quality, food safety, and presentation standards to ensure new employees are well versed in and meet these standards.” 

Even with this, many students still believe that the food served on-campus is not acceptable. 

“The quality of the food, the way it is made and the fact that it is served uncooked is unacceptable especially for the amount of money we pay as students to attend this school,” freshman marketing major Karin Daniel said. “On Parents’ Day, the food quality exceeded anything ever served to us just because of the fact that our parents were here. It’s not okay that on any other day they don’t care about what they are serving us.”

“I just don’t feel as though anything [in] the email has actually been done,” freshman speech pathology and audiology major Grayson Leslie said. “The food is almost inedible. The staff are mostly—some are completely lovely—very rude. I understand the food is not going to be five stars, but I shouldn’t be eating a fry and then notice a fly cooked in.”

Following the recent complaints and concerns, the College implemented ways that students can easily report issues and seek resolutions. Managers at the Atrium at Eickhoff are present at all hours and are the quickest source of assistance. The MyDtxt feature is another route of communication for students who can not locate a manager or do not want to speak directly to someone. They can simply text “TCNJDINING” to 82257 followed by the desired comment and expect a quick response. On the bottom left corner of the College’s dining website, there is a link to a comment page in which students can report concerns and receive a response in 48 hours. 

Sodexo is also committed to having respectful and straightforward communication between students and staff. There will be clear signage, along with posts on social media, the website and the Bite app, that informs students on exactly what is open at the Atrium before entry. Sodexo has also implemented a dining ambassador program beginning Oct. 11 in which students will be paid to provide feedback to the dining team. Closing the gap between the College, Sodexo and the student body is important to all.   

“We will continue to work closely with Sodexo and to solicit ideas from our student body on how we can improve the quality of our dining experience,” Stallings said. 

In regards to staffing and management, Sodexo is committed to making changes and improving its team. Stallings’ email explained the details of their recent adjustments. 

“Sodexo has increased its wages to attract new personnel and is leveraging all available current staff members to meet current needs,” Stallings said. “To date, among other initiatives, Sodexo has enlisted 14 temp agencies in the area to source staffing, increased the union starting wages, begun providing transportation to bring temporary help to campus [and] increased the number of salaried positions dedicated to [the College].”

Along with the aforementioned improvements, students with 19-, 15- or 10-meals-per-week plans were also given $100 worth of flex points and four guest passes per semester to compensate for the recent dining troubles. Although all students appreciate the extra flex points, some feel that that gesture may not be enough. 

“I’ve had to use my points to basically not starve. I’m almost through my points and we’re barely through the semester,” Leslie said. “$100 does not make up for the thousands of dollars I spend on a 19 meals [per week] plan. It’s so not right and I should be getting somewhat of a refund for the semester at this point. It’s completely unacceptable” 

Stallings closed the final email by stating that much of the situation is beyond control, but the College and Sodexo appreciate the community’s understanding and are doing the best they can to accommodate all concerns. 

“Much of this is driven by the pandemic and the impact it has had on both the labor market and the supply chain that Sodexo relies upon to source the food that it serves in our facilities. These are challenges that businesses across the country are facing. The efforts described above attempt to address concerns that are within our control,” Stallings said.




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