University proposes new food service plan

Matt Kuhns

The residence halls aren’t the only aspect of life at Iowa State slated for big changes in the next few years.

If approved, a new plan prepared by Vice President for Business and Finance Warren Madden and Vice President for Student Affairs Thomas Hill could significantly change food services at ISU.

Hill and Madden have recommended the combination of the separate food services in the residence halls and the Memorial Union, along with other campus vendors, into a new university-wide food service operation.

One of the primary goals of this proposal is to offer improved variety and convenience in food options at ISU, Madden said.

“We’re hoping we’ll end up with more variety [and] more locations,” he said.

Madden said the origins of this proposal began with a review of food services conducted by the university in 1997.

The review found that students, faculty and staff all saw several areas of ISU’s food system that could use improvement.

In response, ISU hired two food service consultants to evaluate the current system and the comments made about it, Madden said.

The consultants’ report was presented to a number of groups at ISU for input, and based on that Madden and Hill prepared their recommendation of a consolidated food provider.

As a result of establishing a single food service operation, students would have more choice in how they use their meal plan, Hill said.

One likely possibility is that a meal plan could be used to purchase items in the Memorial Union Food Court.

Madden said the changes in food service also will address the lack of food options on the northern end of campus.

Madden said the reorganization would improve efficiency for food providers and consumers. He said one of the complaints students expressed was that they weren’t eating every meal they were charged for.

Hill said the new system should eliminate this problem.

“The person that doesn’t eat breakfast [won’t] have to pay for it,” Hill said.

Madden said there is a trend at many universities to move away from traditional cafeteria food service to a more modern system that is similar to a restaurant.

Eating patterns have changed, Madden said, and students today often “graze” throughout the day rather than limiting eating to three distinct meals.

ISU President Martin Jischke currently is considering Hill and Madden’s recommendation. Hill said he is hoping to receive a response sometime this spring.

If the recommendation is approved, there will still be a lot of work to be done before changes can be implemented, Madden said. Consolidating the separate food providers on campus is “a fairly ambitious project,” he said.

He said the change could be implemented by July 2000, but students could see some adjustments in food service even sooner.