On-campus dining services, provided by Chartwells Higher Education, have made improvements since last year’s reports concerning lack of food safety training and management misconduct.
Kyle Claiborne, one of the new assistant directors of dining services, now conducts monthly food inspections for food safety and handling. Claiborne previously worked for EcoSure, a third-party food auditor. Additionally, Chartwells holds back-to-school meetings for all employees every semester, said resident district manager of Chartwells’ UTD operations Charlie Dorsa.
“We run through a complete food safety PowerPoint to make sure that they understand food safety,” Dorsa said. “They can ask questions, and they also go through a ServSafe course to understand what the national food safety is.”
Dorsa added that student workers now have a better onboarding process and experience.
“We’re streamlining the training that all students go through,” Dorsa said. “So it’s consistent across the board. So it’s not one way over here and one way over there. It’s just a more consistent process.”
Additionally, the Chartwells’ catering team has recently been recognized for being a finalist for Catersource Magazine’s 2020 Achievement in Catering Excellence Award. It is in the finalist position with one other company for being the best caterer in the West, said Dorsa.
Ayoub Mohammed, political science senior and Student Government president, was a student worker at the UTD Chick-fil-A until spring 2018. He said that he keeps in touch with workers that still work for Chartwells.
“What I can tell you is that things are significantly better than in the time that I was there,” Mohammed said. “There is no more pay-withholding type stuff, there isn’t the same level of discrimination that was happening last year and we have a much more responsive and transparent dining services this year.”
Dorsa said that having new additions to the management team has brought about many improvements.
“We’ve always had our policies and procedures, but it’s up to us as leaders to make sure that we’re implementing them in doing what’s fair and right by our employees.” Dorsa said. “I just think now we have a team that is focused on that and in doing the right thing.”
Mohammed said SG often connects with Chartwells to pass along ideas and suggestions from committees or individual students.
“They’ve been very open to our new ideas and they’re very receptive in meetings so it’s much better,” Mohammed said. “I feel like the students can rest assure that the problems are being solved right away.”
Since last school year, the Student Unionunderwent changes in its retail options, now offering Firehouse Subs, Smoothie King and Halal Shack. Dorsa said that student reception of the new retail options has been good, especially that of Halal Shack.
“It’s been a huge hit for the students,” Dorsa said. “Halal has exceeded expectations. I would say it’s almost the second busiest location we have.“
Biology senior Arpit Kamal, who has been dining at the SU since his freshman year said he has noticed many changes over the years.
“You can tell they’re constantly trying to improve, because of all the stuff they keep bringing in, starting with Starbucks and other places,” he said. “I really like Halal Shack – its pretty nice and pretty reasonably priced.”
Kamal said that he feels the restaurants at the SU could still offer more.
“I wish that more places on campus would be part of the programs that franchises are doing,” Kamal said. “This is something small, but you can’t get reward points at the Chick-fil-A on campus using the app, and you can’t use coupons. (The) IHOP on campus usually doesn’t do promotions that nationwide IHOPs do.
Mohammed said he’s heard mostly positive feedback from students.
“They’re all doing really great this year,” hesaid. “I haven’t heard many complaints, except for long wait times, but what can you do when you have thousands of students all trying to eat at the same hour?”
In regard to the services in Dining Hall West, Dorsa said that the team tries to make sure the menu evolves more for the students.
“We’re also trying to implement the national food days, like national burger day and donut day, into some of the things that we do at dining hall,” Dorsa said. “We’re just trying to make it more fun and interactive for the students.”