By Laura Hayes, Diversions Editor
Aramark’s strive for a better reputation may be working.
While some may have spent the summer months relaxing and regaining energy for the semester ahead, Aramark, Furman’s dining services partner, and the dining staff have been preparing to dish out a whole new set of changes. After a long break away from campus, students were welcomed back to a variety of new additions to the Furman Dining Experience such as increasing sourcing of local products, the introduction of Southern Pressed Juicery in the PalaDen, and an increased selection of gluten-free options.
“We want to be more responsive to feedback from students,” Aramark’s Food Service Director Adam Summer said. “We reviewed the dining surveys completed in October and responded directly to the student’s requests.”
The effect of these direct responses can be seen in the Dining Hall’s extended hours, the new Meal Exchange program and the introduction of Southern Pressed Juicery in the PalaDen. New retail varieties such as rice bowls at Sushi with Gusto have been introduced, as well as a selection of locally sourced products such as pork from Greenbrier Farms and bread from Upcountry Provisions in the Dining Hall.
Dining Services and Aramark invited a variety of food trucks Mon., Aug. 31 to campus during the typical dinner hours. The event was popular among students and included food selections and giveaways from a variety of vendors, all for one meal swipe.
For students, Aramark and Dining Services are on board to continue the food truck success.
“We want to continue to bring food trucks to campus and are currently in the process of lining up a ‘Food Truck Wednesday’ during lunch time,” Summer confirmed. “This would start within the next few weeks.”
The Dining Hall has hired a new team of student workers to help plan the gluten-free and healthy menu selections for the new Dining for Life station in order to meet the needs of a growing population. The student team will not only add a student voice to the dining staff, but will also help in making the Dining Hall’s services more available to students with dietary restrictions.
A possible motivation behind all of the changes could be as simple as a contract – Aramark’s food service provider contract is up for renewal this year, according to Dining Hall management. The company might have to compete with other providers to stay at Furman.
Summer confirms that the contract renewal process has influenced some of their decisions but was not the sole purpose in implementing the recent changes.
“A lot of our ideas really come from new ideas from our new management team,” Summer said. “Overall, we really want to continue to be more responsive to students and continue to deliver a good experience.”