Producing enough food to feed our student body is a large task. When you add in providing enough options for people with dietary restrictions and keeping food quality high enough to meet expectations, the task becomes even bigger.
This is the task that Campus Dining Services and Aramark try to accomplish everyday here at Drexel University. And to their credit, they do a pretty great job and are very receptive to feedback. Since taking over as the designated food provider in 2016, Aramark has consistently sought student feedback and made improvements based on the criticism they have received.
But there is always room for improvement. When it comes to the dining options and services, the system is plagued by inconsistency at different levels. Most importantly, is inconsistent availability of menu items. While many of the items on the various Urban Eatery menus are enticing, when you go to order you find items that are rarely available. In contrast, the Handschumacher Dining Center has an abundance of their menu options, but the food lacks quality and freshness.
Another inconsistency is what exactly the value of a meal swipe truly is. At the Hans, a meal swipe gives access to as much as you care to eat. But, when you go to Urban Eatery it can vary from as little as a coffee and a pastry, to a pizza in addition to a side and a drink. These three swipes are obviously not financially equivalent to each other. So how much is a meal swipe worth? Establishing a more consistent value across the board would make budgeting your dining plan out over the term simpler.
It is also basically impossible to use a meal swipe past 9:30 p.m. due to the Hans closing at 8 p.m. and the few stations that stay open until 10 p.m. running out of food or starting to close early. This is a big oversight considering many students have night classes that end between 9 and 10 p.m. These students, and those logging late study hours at the library, should have options available to them later in the night.
One of the biggest changes that Campus Dining Services at the beginning of this academic year was expanding menu options for vegans and vegetarians. The deli in Urban Eatery was replaced by the new U.C. Veg which has a sustainable, plant-based menu. The station also recently updated their menu with new items created through collaboration with Drexel Food Lab and Aramark’s Culinary Development Kitchen. The number of meatless proteins also increased, but not by much. With the growing number of people following plant-based lifestyles, whether out of necessity or choice, there should be more protein sources available for vegetarians and vegans.
We understand that creating a dining environment that pleases thousands of opinionated students is a near impossible task. And we applaud Aramark and Campus Dining Services on what they are able to do here each day. We hope this constructive criticism can help them continue to provide better services to our campus and help Drexel continue to feed ambition.