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Dining officials respond to student food concerns

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UW Oshkosh dining officials responded to student concerns about whether campus food is healthy and said various choices are readily available.

Students from the previous article said there were not enough healthy items available on campus and the present options were too pricey.

Reeve Memorial Union Director Randy Hedge said students can see what food is being offered to them, along with when and where, through the UWO dining website.
“There are healthy options,” Hedge said.

Sodexo’s general manager at UWO Bill Rotchford said there is a large variety of food available on campus to satisfy the preferences of all campus community members.

“We serve more than 3,400 resident students on a daily basis, in addition to all of the commuter students, faculty, staff, alumni and guests of the University,” Rotchford said.

According to Rotchford, Blackhawk Commons is the best-kept secret on campus when it comes to healthy, affordable food options.

“Our vegan and vegetarian bar, near the entrée line, often offers high protein, high flavor profile, low fat options,” Rotchford said.

Rotchford said the price of eating healthy on campus could be less than five dollars per meal with a 15 or 21 meal plan.

“Scrambled eggs with salsa, oatmeal with fruit and raisins [and] yogurts all make for a healthy breakfast option,” Rotchford said. “The turkey and ham featured at the deli are all low-fat options and make for a healthy lunch with vegetables, Mindful soups, salads and fruit.”

According to Rotchford there are also multiple flavors of infused water, no-calorie Brisk teas, low-fat milk and fruit juice options.  He said with a meal plan, all of these options are all-you-care-to-eat and less than five dollars per meal.

Both Hedge and Rotchford said the implementation of the MyFitnessPal smartphone app and discounted Fitbit fitness trackers can help students keep track of their food intake.

“This year, we have been offering students an opportunity to purchase a Fitbit for $90,” Rotchford said. “This technology helps track the fitness component, and have featured our partnership with the free MyFitnessPal smartphone app for scanning barcodes, making it easier to facilitate food journaling.”

According to Rotchford, all 100 Fitbits available were sold out prior to spring break.

Rotchford said even when students seek a healthier option like the Garden Toss in Reeve, students choose some of the least healthy food options.

“The most popular dressing at Garden Toss is, in fact, ranch dressing, and we go through a significant amount of cheese, eggs, croutons and other toppings which typically decrease the nutritional salad component,” Rotchford said.

Resident Dining Manager Raymond Veit said comment cards are available in Blackhawk, and one of the frequent complaints comes from students requesting fresh fruit.

“Lack of fresh fruit is frequently brought up, but it is available every meal,” Veit said. “The exact type of apple someone wants may not always be around, but over the course of a week, there is a pretty good selection.”

Veit said bananas have gotten some bad press, only because it is never known what degree of ripeness they will arrive in, whether it is bright green or “spotting on the way out.”

According to Veit, those comment cards and other forms of communication are available for campus members to contact dining services.

“We gather customer feedback from surveys, comment cards, the Food Committee and just by walking around the operations and talking with students,” Veit said. “Where [it is] feasible, we try to incorporate these suggestions.”

According to Rotchford, there are weekly Food Committee meetings open to all students in Blackhawk Commons on Mondays at 5 p.m.

“These meetings are attended by the Assistant Director for University Dining, Marty Strand, Sodexo’s Operations Manager Lisa Siwik and me,” Rotchford said. “It creates an opportunity for an open dialogue to address comments, suggestions and feedback regarding campus dining.”

Rotchford said in addition to those meetings, students are welcome to give feedback through the dining and food emails that are monitored by Sodexo management, including Strand.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Dining officials respond to student food concerns