While the subject of food might not be the determining factor that high school seniors use when choosing their college, it becomes very important when they realize breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the whole semester will be coming from the school cafeteria. While the food served at college will never compare to the meals prepared by Mom, the staff of Bon Appetit at Grove City College goes to extraordinary lengths to make sure the students are having their voices heard in regard to the food being served through its Feedback Food Forum.
Offered every few months, the Feedback Food Forum invites 80-140 students to pull up to the table with the management staff from Bon Appetit for a meal and conversation. The meals are usually based on a theme such as Halloween, Wing Night, Christmas, Picnic, or even the recent Mediterranean-inspired Food Forum. Bon Appetit served spinach chicken, Greek salad, herbed potatoes, tomatoes and steamed broccoli while creating a question-and-answer based discussion as well as an open platform for everyone to talk. Many students see the “Food Forum” as an open-mic night – an opportunity to ask questions they have been pondering over the table while they eat at MAP or Hicks cafeteria. This is not a lecture where the Bon Appetit staff talks down to students, but rather a dialogue between the two groups so that they can improve on their services. When a student enters the forum they can come with questions and leave with insight that they would not have obtained elsewhere. Students that have attended the Food Forum have expressed positivity at the experience.
“I do think that there has been progress, because students will request something that they want to see integrated in the cafeteria, or something that they want to see changed, and then most of the time, you do see the change! So that indicates that Bon Appetit really does care and listen to the students’ opinions.” – Kate Albers (Food Forum Attendee)
Not a new idea, the Food Forum originally began in 1998 and was called “Trays Up Forum.” Students would bring their dinner from MAP Cafe and sit around a table with the food committee staff to discuss topics. Although the format was slightly different, the topics discussed were similar to the ones discussed at the current Food Forums. Students want to know why certain products are not being offered, what they wish to see less of, ideas for new menus, better sanitary suggestions, and so forth. Most of the time students complain about not having certain brands or options, but do not realize that there usually is an explanation for it. The forum allows students to understand the reasons behind why or why not certain things are done. This conversation allows Bon Appetit to explain why they do what they do and permits them to make changes if possible.
If prospective students considering Grove City College are perhaps thinking twice because of their selective appetite, they should not give it a second thought. Grove City College’s Bon Appetit provides students with the chance to speak out on their concerns about the food services and listens through its Feedback Food Forum.