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SMC food services make changes

Theresa Bajorek | Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Changes to dining services at Saint Mary’s, including the merging of the Cyber Café and convenience store, have been implemented with the hope that grabbing a bite on campus will be easier and more convenient for students.

When Saint Mary’s Bookstore was outsourced to Follett after Fall Break, Follett took the space originally given to the convenience store (C-store) in the Student Center and the C-Store was moved into the Cyber Café.

The Café, which originally closed at 10 p.m., is now open until midnight. Students called for the change to Saint Mary’s student government last semester.

“People are just getting started [studying] at 10,” first year Sarah Thompson said. “People get the munchies. So, I think it’s good that the convenience store and the Cyber Café are open later now.”

Additional changes include the playing of music during dinner hours in the Saint Mary’s Noble Family Dining Hall, and the availability of hummus outside the deli, said Barry Bowles, the dining hall’s general manager.

“I love the music at dinner,” first year Annie Beck said. “It’s so nice and it really boosts the mood.”

Although these changes are subtle, they are significant to some students, Bowles said.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot and we haven’t made any big changes, but [these changes] can make a big difference on a student’s day,” he said.

According to Bowles, the main issue the kitchen staff competes with is that everyone has different tastes. It is up to his staff to find “what’s going to please the most people,” Bowles said.

Asking questions and making suggestions are among the best ways for students to have a voice in what options are provided, he said.

“Students ask great questions,” Bowles said. “I love to hear what students want and I’m always willing to listen.”

The Saint Mary’s website also has a feedback form that students can fill out to submit comments and questions, he said.

Bowles said most of the new additions to the dining hall have been made based on student opinion and suggestions, including surveys that have been e-mailed to students on multiple occasions so far this year.

“I trust the Saint Mary’s students,” Bowles said.

Still, some students seek bigger changes to the dining hall.

Junior Madison Thatcher said she thinks the general consensus of the student body is that they “eat a lot of the same thing every day.”

“I would like to see more options,” Thatcher said.

Bowles said he is still searching for ways to change the dining hall.

“I would love to see a Facebook page started,” Bowles said.

Another possibility is the idea of being able to order and pay for off-campus delivery using Saint Mary’s student Munch Money, he said.

Bowles said it is his goal to facilitate communication between students and staff to create a dining hall that will satisfy as many students as possible.