By Zach D'Amico
Yes, you have heard correctly. There’s really going to be sushi featured at The Shack.
That was just one of many “coming soon” announcements that Parkhurst Dining made during the January Food Committee Meeting held on Jan. 30.
The meeting, which was the first of its kind at Saint Vincent College, had over 20 attendees, including students, faculty and dining service staff. The meeting was intended to be conducted as an open forum, allowing those in attendance to share their thoughts and ideas.
Jamie Ballew, the senior general manager of Parkhurst Dining at SVC, led the meeting.
He commented on what influenced Dining Services to organize such monthly meetings.
“It’s so we have a better connection with the students. Our intent is that we have a better line of communication by doing that,” Ballew said.
After introductions were made, Ballew discussed the recent changes that have already been made to Saint Vincent’s dining services during the Winter semester.
Perhaps the most significant change was the introduction of the “Food U” app which allows students to access menus, specials and dining hours.
Other changes include new menus at Daily Dish and Bravo in the cafeteria, as well as the widely popular fruit and waffle bar.
Ballew addressed sanitary-concerns regarding the new milk program in the cafeteria. He stated that it should operate much like the self-serve salad bar where cafeteria-goers trust each other to share utensils responsibly.
Ballew then discussed what’s coming soon to dining services at SVC, including the announcement that The Shack will feature sushi within the next two weeks. He stated that the sushi will be provided by an “outside vendor” to then be served at The Shack.
Another change that is coming soon is the new ordering system at The Shack. To alleviate congestion inside, two separate order slips will be available: one for the deli and one for the grill.
Ballew commented on the benefits that monthly meetings will provide for the SVC community.
“Having the monthly meetings gives an open forum...It lets us tell them what they asked for and what we did about it. The open forum so that they can say any new ideas or thoughts,” he said.
One student who attended the meeting was Mark O’Grady, a senior anthropology and sociology major.
O’Grady assisted Parkhurst with research as part of his group senior project for his “Applied Anthropology” class.
He, along with fellow senior anthropology majors Tory Burke and Bayle Shreve, conducted research under the guise of Dr. Elaine Bennett, associate professor of anthropology and sociology.
Their research focused specifically on ways to improve one’s dining experience at the cafeteria.
After completing the research in December of 2018, the group presented Parkhurst information regarding students’ seating preferences in the cafeteria, food insecurity issues with commuters and how students prefer to read nutritional information.
O’Grady also believes that these monthly meetings will benefit the Saint Vincent community.
“I think giving students a voice in what they want to change, what they want to see is important,” he said.
During the meeting, one attendee suggested the possibility of having a fast-food chain on campus as a dining option.
While Ballew said that much research would have to be conducted to consider a fast-food chain dining option, he considered the attendee’s suggestion and offered a response.
O’Grady said that the monthly meetings will allow for this open input.
“Without these meetings, you’re not going to have that kind of input. I think it’s a big step for Saint Vincent to allow this,” O’Grady said.
Madeline Mutinelli, a sophomore biochemistry major, is the sophomore class treasurer and a dining services committee chairman.
She meets weekly with Ballew and “relays information, comments, concerns and ideas” to him.
She attended the January meeting and gave comment on how the meetings will be helpful to the campus community.
“I think they have the potential to make a difference. It will really depend on what the students make of them. If attendance is high and students have ideas and concerns, then [Ballew] and his team know what to improve. I believe they truly want the best dining experience as possible for our campus community,” Mutinelli said.