Dining changes come to The Rock

Change in food provider causes ripples among campus community

Published by Morgan Miller, Date: September 9, 2021
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In the past, Slippery Rock University used AVI Foodsystems for dining on campus. This semester, the AVI Foodsystems contract expired and SRU is now using Aramark Corporation to provide food on campus. This change has caused conversations among the students on campus. 

This year’s dining options include: Boozle Dining Hall, Boozle Express, Quaker Steak & Lube, Good Day Grab & Go, Limon & Chile, Sandwich Shack, Greens to Go, Ignition, Starbucks, Bento, Sear & Sizzle, Revolve, Butter & Honey and Crafted by Commonplace. 

A hot topic on campus is the the fan favorite Umami being taken away. Umami was subcontracted by a company called AFC through AVI Foodsystems. Aramark subcontracts with Bento which replaced Umami on campus.  

SRU football wide-receiver Jermaine Wynn tweeted about his heartbreak of learning Umami was no longer at SRU.  

“Heartbroken to learn that Umami is not at The Fluh anymore,” tweeted Wynn.  

Junior homeland security major Noah Burchett also expressed his favorite vendor was Umami. Burchett spoke on his opinions about the vendors on campus changing. 

“I understand the new vendors are going to try different stuff, but you cannot really take Umami away,” said Burchett. “That was the staple of campus.” 

SRU is understanding of the student concerns but also encouraging students to find the good in this change.

During the first week of school, tents were set up around campus to provide students with assistance and answer questions. Some students were under the impression that they would be able to speak to the SRU dining director. There was confusion due to the large number of tables set up, and no clear direction of who to talk to.

Senior integrated marketing communication major and statistics minor Bianca Musone commented on her thoughts about the dining changes.  

“It really just took a lot of us by surprise because none of us were aware that the AVI contract was ending and it seemed it sprouted out of nowhere,” said Musone. “They were so forthcoming with their aspects of school, but I felt like the food aspect was ignored.”  

SRU Dining Director Christopher Cole spoke on the change of dining and the biggest issue the university is facing.  

“We have a new contract with Aramark who took over our dining services as our contracted provider back on June first,” said Cole. “We were moving smoothly and steadily towards the start of the semester, until they started calling back all of the workers who had been laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Cole stated that over a third of the employees opted not to return to work due to other employment opportunities or retirement. The university was aware of the staff shortage three weeks before the semester started. 

Due to the staff shortage dining halls hours have been cut short, or some vendors have closed completely.  

“We have had to make some decisions to say we just cannot keep everything open the way we thought we would, until we hire more staff,” said Cole.  

SRU has the lowest employment in the western Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) area. 35 out of 110 employees did not come back to work this semester. This has forced SRU to limit the hours of the dining halls and vendors.

The SRU dining department has created phases for the opening of all Aramark vendors. These phases include the need to hire more staff to open all vendors for the full duration expected.  

“It is really the experience of the students that is most important to us,” said Cole. “As much as I wish we could provide the extensive variety we have done before, it is still our goal to provide variety, provide choice, [and] to provide healthy, nutritious meals.” 

Students are able to stay actively informed about SRU Dining promotions, changes or other information via their instagram, @rockdining.

Morgan is an integrated marketing communication major. This is her second semester on The Rocket staff as assistant campus life editor. Previously, she was part of the Women’s Lacrosse team at SRU for two years and was an editor for her high school yearbook sophomore to senior year. After graduation, she hopes to work on a marketing team in the DMV area. Outside of The Rocket, Morgan is also on staff for the athletic communication department.

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