Returning students may have noticed several changes that have been made to Northwestern’s campus dining since last semester. The obvious changes are the new Raider Market convenience store in the caf and Hub, as well as the new green to-go boxes. Other changes made include the increase of meal exchanges on meal plans, as well as being able to get multiple meals in a single meal period.
“Last semester we did about three different focus groups,” said Ned Price, general manager of NW Campus Dining. “We met with the Student Government Association [SGA], and I spent some time with them talking about ideas that I had and getting their feedback.”
From there, Price said they brought in Sodexo workers from outside the college to run the focus group with SGA in order to get feedback from NW students. They foound from the information gathered in the focus group that the biggest request was for more meal exchanges each week.
“That kind of started the whole thing,” Price said.
But the changes didn’t stop there.
“I always like to have something new every semester when you guys come back,” Price said. “I started thinking about changing the little corner there by the cashier stand and putting in some convenience store items.”
This convenience store, located in the Hub, is called the Raider Market. This addition allows students to get a quick snack or frozen food items with flex money.
The green to-go boxes are another new addition to the campus dining experience. Now students can bring these containers to the caf and get a quality meal to go.
“The green boxes are something that, the last three colleges I’ve been at, I’ve introduced and I know that they have had great success every place I’ve been and I thought it was the right time to introduce that,” Price said.
Despite the new addition, students who are in a hurry and cannot wait in line can still grab from a small selection of Simply To-Go sandwiches.
“The sandwich program out of the Simply-To-Go cooler has not gone away, it’s just gotten smaller,” Price said.
The changes in campus dining were not exclusive to the caf. The Hub and Common Grounds also saw changes.
The ice cream machine was moved from the Hub to Common Grounds. This was in part to continue Common Grounds’s push to run on its own and be financially stable.
“We’re very close, in just three years, to making that happen,” Price said.
As far as the Hub goes, Price said they ended a contract with a food supplier, so he had to rewrite the menu to feature fewer items that were made at a higher quality.
“I knew I was going to have to make some unpopular decisions with the cheeseballs and some of those things. But once again, it was trying to shrink that menu down so that the staff had the chance to put out quality products every time,” Price said. “[But] things didn’t go away for good. You’ll see cheeseballs come back as specials.”
While Price is aware he made some choices students may not like, he believes that the choices he did make will benefit the campus dining experience in the long run.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be popular with everybody with all the changes, but when you look at them all together I think they really make sense,” Price said.