Survey Shows Students Want Better Quality Food

Photo by Rosalie Rodriguez.
Photo by Rosalie Rodriguez.
Photo by Rosalie Rodriguez.

With the future addition of two new dining establishments in the works, students voiced their concerns about on campus food this semester when Campus Auxiliary Services (CAS) sent out a campus-wide survey asking students, faculty and administrators to give feedback on their campus experiences with dining, the bookstore, Shop24 and ID Card services.

With 1,245 participants in the survey, Executive Director of CAS Steve Deutsch said it has given CAS a clearer picture of what students want.

“We’ve had a lot of loud voices advocating for certain things on the food service side,” Deutsch said. “I think it was well done in terms of response.”

Out of all of the participants in the survey, 77 percent of them were students, a majority of which were third-year students. Just over half of student respondents reside on campus. Deutsch said before the survey, he had hunches of what students liked and disliked, but it reaffirmed these thoughts.

Most participants prefer locally grown foods, which they are willing to pay up to 10 percent more for than “regular” food items. Many students have expressed their desire for increased quality of food as well.

Owen Percoco, a third-year computer science major said he did not think the quality of the food matched up to the price.

“The fact that simple things like drinks cost twice as much in the SUB as they do at Stop & Shop is ludicrous,” he said.

However, Percoco said he would be willing to pay more for local or natural foods.

Deutsch said CAS is working with Real Food Calculator and a professor in the business school on a study to find out how much people are willing to pay for local foods, as SUNY New Paltz has one of the lowest meal plan prices in the SUNY system.

“Obviously, it’s more expensive to get locally sourced products,” Deutsch said. “In the same way that everyone wants healthy options, the question is how much are they willing to pay for them. We’ll be able to find that out from the study.”

Off-campus student Rebecca Zedek, a third-year communications major, said she was concerned with the increased rise in prices, while still having the same amount of dining dollars for students.

“From an outsider’s perspective, this is an outrage. The amount of students are increasing and they have to keep up with the demand,” she said. “I would love to eat on campus with my friends more, but I can’t do it if it costs 10 dollars to eat just one meal.”

Deutsch said that a recent meeting with student board members addressed the problem of students running out of dining dollars.

“One of the ideas is [to change] more for the meal plans so we could put more dollars on the meal plan,” he said. “The general consensus is that people do not want to be committed to making more purchases on campus.”

Deutsch said campus meal plans will most likely change once the two new eateries at the new residence hall and Wooster Science Building open in 2015. He also said CAS is trying to change the location of the campus bakery to make it a retail outlet.

The future of the on-campus meal plan and dining establishments are ever changing, Deutsch said. Next semester, a New York City style pizza slice eatery will open as a replacement of Pandini’s.

“It will be real pizza, really good pizza,” he said, adding that it will be different than Hasbrouck slices.

According to the survey, many feel Shop24 is most useful for emergency situations, with zero percent of respondents saying they use it on a daily basis, and two percent saying they use it once a week.

Tim Natsch, a third-year adolescent education social studies major, said Shop24 can be convenient, but he felt it could be utilized better.

“I question the prices,” he said. “It becomes either, pay here and save the walk, or save money and go walk all the way to town, which as we know from recent events could be dangerous.”

Deutsch said Shop24 has been operated by Pepsi and CAS took a smaller role in the handling of the machine in order for it to come into fruition.

“Pepsi has done a poor job of dealing with the machine,” Deutsch said. “They stocked the machine with items that are not popular and overpriced. They have done a poor job of maintaining [the machine].”

He said that since Sodexo has an exclusive on dining dollars on campus, the machine would need to be maintained by them and dining dollars could be used.

“We have two more years on the vending contract with Pepsi, we are trying to get out of it earlier, as soon as Pepsi lets us out Sodexo wants to do it,” Deutsch said.