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Survey says, cafe needs improvement

By Andrew Kriz
On February 20, 2013

No one expects the university cafeteria to compare to the dining room at The Ritz, but students faculty and staff are hoping the GSU cafeteria will get fired up for improvements following an online survey over winter break.

Of the 532 respondents to the survey about half were students, with the other half being faculty, staff and administrators. Students were a bit more positive with their feedback about the food, with 46 percent saying they were satisfied or very satisfied with the offerings.

The folks who work on campus were less enthusiastic about the fare. Only about one-third said they were satisfied or very satisfied.

Nearly all agree there's plenty of room for improvement and a need to appeal to the diverse campus community. Changes are necessary since the café is the most convenient option for almost everyone at GSU.

The biggest complaint was that the café, which is operated by Food Services Incorporated (FSI), was understaffed at times during the busiest hours, which resulted in slow service. The lack of a varied selection on the menu, as well as prices being too high for what is offered, were also among the biggest complaints cited by the survey.

Kevin Smith, a student, rated the café as 'average' giving it a passing grade for service.

"It's convenient and better this year. They've improved the salad bar since its cheaper, healthier, and there are more choices but the big rush before class is still a problem," he said. "Both lanes aren't open and it takes too long to get food since there isn't enough staff for the rush. If they added something like a fast food lane that could help."

Many who chose not to eat at the café said they brought food from home as their primary meal source while others drove to fast food restaurants or opted to eat out of the vending machines.

Thirty-six percent of the staff who responded reported being either "very satisfied or satisfied", the faculty gave a 35 percent, and only 31 percent of administrators deemed the food satisfactory. Those numbers hold significant weight as the café's largest audience is administrators and faculty members according to the results.

Some improvements have already been made since the survey results were analyzed by Betsy Joseph, Director of Auxiliary Services. Some of the changes included expanding the menu to include chicken wings, clam strips, zucchini strips, and promoting a monthly drink special at Starbucks.

Also, FSI and Governors State University will be working together to promote the monthly "Chef's Creations" menu via the monthly newsletter and on the upcoming Facebook page FSI is creating.

Prices at the salad bar were lowered and combo meals were implemented to offer more food for appropriate pricing.

In order to address the slow service, FSI has hired additional part-time employees and has expanded employment to students under the Federal Work-Study program, which helps give back to students by offering additional financial help.

The cafeteria does have some fans who give the café high marks for the food and friendly service.

Senior Albert Alexander spoke nothing but praise for the café and recalled his thoughts on the service he has received over the year he has been a patron.

"I really like the soups and the salads they offer.  The employees are personal and it feels like they know me. It really helps that when I'm there it doesn't feel like its bureaucratic; that I'm just another face in the line they are serving." he said.

A suggestion Alexander and other students brought up was the proposal to incorporate cultural dishes during each month as Governors State has a significant blend of cultural backgrounds in the student body.

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