Dining changes continue throughout semester

Emily Flamme, News Editor

Quinnipiac Dining has changed aspects of its services for the spring 2021 semester by implementing a different mobile ordering system, adding a fresh food station and appointing a new dining director.

Toby Chenette was selected as the interim director after Chuck Couture, former resident district manager of QU Dining, stepped down. 

The Dining Services Advisory Board has been meeting every two weeks to go over how dining can be improved and to address any questions students may have.

The Blue Zone was implemented in the dining hall as a healthy snack station. (Connor Lawless)

“So the purpose of the Dining Service Advisory Board is really to get feedback from students, and to improve the overall experience for dining at Quinnipiac,” said Tom Ellett, chief experience officer. 

Ephemia Nicolakis, a first-year 3+1 graphic design and advertising double major, attended the meeting on Feb. 3, and said that these discussions seem to be improving the dining experience for students. 

“They give greater insight for both students and Chartwells as to what can be changed for the better,” Nicolakis said. “It also helps to show students how much work goes into making change within dining in our community. Everyone is really dedicated to making the experience positive for the students.”

Ellett said that QU Dining hired an outside consultant to review the current dining situation and discuss further ways to enhance the experience. The consultant sent out 13,000 surveys to students, faculty and staff but only 1,200 were completed. 

The consultant will be putting out a report in the spring about how QU Dining operates.

“That piece will come out, and we will be pretty open about our findings,” Ellett said. “We’ll be sharing it here at the Dining Services Advisory Board meeting.”

Although more changes are to come after the report is released, Chenette has already implemented a few. The biggest one was the switch to the mobile ordering app Transact.

The previous system, Boost, had a lot of technical issues, which was the reason for the switch, Chenette said. 

Transact had some mishaps at the beginning of the semester, but Chenette said it was human error that caused the problems. 

“I would agree the larger percentage of issues was people and training and how to print and how to do the push notification that your orders are ready and such,” Chenette said. “We can see a dashboard that tells us how many orders were very early, early, on time, late and very late. We’re shooting to get as close to 100% on time as we can.”

The QU Dining team has been meeting twice a day to readjust the systems to help make sure the mobile ordering is accurate. 

Another update is that Au Bon Pain now has an option to have modifications made to an order, which a lot of students have been requesting, Ellett said. 

One complaint that came up multiple times at the advisory board meeting was the long wait times at the Breakfast and Co. station. 

“So what we’re thinking is not putting out the pasta at 11 a.m.,” Chenette said. “One idea that I had was a Belgian waffle bar with like strawberry sauce, blueberry sauce, some flavored whipped creams — that kind of thing to try to entice students not to go to Breakfast and Co. to ease the line down there.”

The Blue Zone is a new station in Cafe Q that replaces the previous establishment, Harvest. It has fruit-infused water, packaged snacks, trail mix and dried fruit. Ellett said the idea for the Blue Zone came when a student approached him and asked about putting in a station with healthy grab-and-go options. 

“I give great credit to Chartwells for embracing this student idea of a dietary option for students that’s different than the normal menu that they may create at Chartwells,” Ellett said. “So for other students, this is just an example that we can make change pretty quickly.”

Another idea Chenette had was to bring in food trucks that students can use their meal points on since many have extra money in their accounts from the previous two shortened semesters.

“I have a pool of 15 different food trucks that are on the roster, and I’m looking to get a variety of trucks, so it’s not the same truck every day,” Chenette said. “On the main campus, I’m looking to do the main quad between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for the lunch-meal period. And then for late night, we can do 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. I’d like to do that somewhere up behind the bobcat. Closer to all the dorms just make sense to me.”

The current plan is that the trucks will come  Monday through Thursday on the Mount Carmel campus, and will go to the York Hill campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays . Chenette said he has to figure out the best places for the WiFi to connect to the trucks since that is necessary for students to use their QCard.