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Dining focus groups give students a vocal platform

A focus group regarding the new meal plan determined that Sodexo should return to the a la carte menu, but Sodexo will not be able to implement large changes right away.

In response to the drastic changes made to the college’s meal plan starting in Fall 2017, Camillia Williams, the Strategic Account Director for Sodexo, held the event with the aim to give “the university and Sodexo [a] better understanding of the students’ perspectives on the dining.”

On November 2, Williams asked the students participating in the focus group for feeedback regarding the current dining situation.

Some students complemented on Sodexo’s consideration of different dietary needs. For example, the veggie burgers in the Campus Center act as a meat substitute, so vegetarians dining at Rollins do not have to miss out on the experience of eating a burger.

However, things quickly turned into a conversation about how the old dining situation offered more variety, customizable options, and healthier alternatives last year.

As Jason Augustus ‘21 put it, the dining has become “quantity, not quality.”  Students believed that this is due to the all-you-can-eat buffet style. Students at the focus group unanimously voted that Sodexo should return to the a la carte menu.

Furthermore, new dining rules make it very hard to socialize, as students cannot enter the Campus Center unless they buy a meal. Students do not want to pay $10 just to go in the Campus Center and sit with their friends if they are only going to pick up something small.

“[Since] they changed the whole dining system, I have to sit outside and eat outside like a lonely person because I already have my own food prepared from home,” said Cristina Perez ‘18.

Reigan Paulovich ’21 also agreed with Perez, saying that she “personally [is] not a fan of the meal plan because it seems to exclude off-campus students and have a lack of healthy options.”

Williams assured that she and her team “want to make the good things better and improve the not so good.”

Nonetheless, she believes that the changes the students are asking for are too big to be implemented by Spring 2018. Because she does not want to overpromise, she was honest in saying that significant changes probably will not happen this year.

Paulovich said, “the focus group went very well.” She thought that “the feedback given, while sometimes a bit harsh, was accurate and… the sponsors got a lot from it.”

If something needs to be changed, voicing opinions as students have been doing with the dining services will help put that change into effect. However, as far as the dining system goes, it is unclear when these changes will actually be put into effect.

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