Aramark hosts open house

Aramark Higher Education staff invited students to an open house in the Henderson Campus Center on Monday, Sept. 19, to meet and talk with the Aramark staff on campus as well as regional staff.
Allegheny’s partnership with Aramark is still new, and students took the opportunity to share and discuss their opinions, reactions and concerns at the open house.
A student athlete present at the meeting brought up an important point regarding portion sizes. He emphasized that portion sizes are too small, especially for those involved with athletics, bringing up how a few hours after a meal he generally becomes hungry again.
Julia Sonen, ’24, agreed.
“Even as a non-student athlete, I have gotten food from (McKinley’s) and been like, ‘That was a good snack, what’s my next part of the meal?’” Sonen said.
Diversity in dining options was also a focus of the discussion. Aramark Senior Marketing Manager Jennifer Braughler described this year as a “transition year,” explaining how if the planned construction for the redesign of the food court and dining hall moves forward, it would lead to a change in food options available to students.
Braughler elaborated how the stations at McKinley’s currently are likley to be revamped and updated with preliminary plans to make changes like turning the grill into a diner option and expanding Smart Plate station.
“(We) did the stations we did this year to work within the space and the equipment that was there,” Braughler said.
The expansion of options is directly related to available physical resources, such as space, that Aramark inherited. However, the plans are to not only expand the food options but the space as well to provide more freedom for Aramark to implement the expansion in dining choices.
The implementation of more ethnically diverse food on campus was also brought up, with students asking if there was still going to be a weekly rotation of cultural food.
“We honestly haven’t talked about it beyond what we talked about in the beginning,” said Aramark General Manager John Beers. “It’s something that we’ve got to talk with the chefs about getting put into the menu so it’s been a growing pain.”
Beers addressed the lack of reusable green boxes in Brooks and McKinley’s, saying that there is a new supply that has just arrived and that there will be a greater availability of them in the coming weeks.
The use of GrubHub to order food was also touched on. Students brought up the lack of consistency in choices and in prices between using the GrubHub app to order food and going in person. Both Beers and Braughler agreed that this issue could be addressed.
Convenience was also a concern for students. It was mentioned how students may not have the time or availability to go and have a complete meal and that the grab-and-go options that Parkhurst provided would be a welcome addition to Aramark’s options. This suggestion was taken note of.
“We just want to make sure that if we’re (cooking) something hot, we’re serving it hot, and if we’re (cooking) something cold, we’re serving it cold,” Braughler said. “Food quality and safety are a big part of what we do so we’ll just have to take a look and see if we have the equipment there to support the options, and then look at putting a program into place.”
Aramark staff explained they are ready for future communication with students, and noted the new surveys on napkin holders for ease of access.