North Texas Daily

Dining services seek student input to provide better experience

Dining services seek student input to provide better experience

Dining services seek student input to provide better experience
October 12
14:50 2015

Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer
@kayleighnic0le

Loading food into a catering car, psychology senior Ryan Rackley quickly runs into the food pavilion to let his manager know everything is ready to go for the event. When his manager gives the go-ahead, Rackley heads to the BLB to begin his shift, but not before he stops off at the GAB coffee shop to make sure that the newly-hired employee is doing alright.

Although Rackley is a cashier that works for UNT dining services, he does much more than ring up orders and count out change. He can be found delivering food all over campus, pouring lattes and restocking snack shelves. Rackley rushes around university grounds, aiming to provide an adequate, positive dining experience for UNT’s population.

“I want to leave people happy whenever they experience dining at UNT,” Rackley said. “Some days are hard, but I love seeing people satisfied.”

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Food Service manager Ryan Rackley chats with food service manager Corlis Garret and student supervisor Josh Silva at the UNT food court on October 12. Ranjani Groth | Staff Photographer

UNT provides many dining options for students and faculty on campus: dining halls in dorm buildings, restaurants in the food pavilion and various cafés in different buildings across campus.

Director of Residential Dining Services Peter Balabuch said he has spent his career at UNT combining the energy of the campus with his love for food in order to create a healthy variety of options for those seeking to buy food on campus.

“We are fortunate to be able to provide ample options to those who eat at UNT,” Balabuch said. “We are able to repurpose many of our [services] as destination stops. Added choice means added value.”

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Psychology senior Ryan Rackley makes lattes at the GAB coffee shop on October 5. Ranjani Groth | Staff Photographer

Although the dining services are doing everything they can to provide an adequate and expedient service for UNT and its population, experiences are not always smooth and optimistic.

Advertising sophomore Leah McGraw said the food provided is not always of highest quality, and the workers don’t always have smiles on their faces.

McGraw said when she lived at Kerr her freshman year, she felt some of the meat wasn’t cooked properly or had gone bad.

“Life was busy and Kerr was convenient,” McGraw said. “I didn’t really eat a lot though, because Kerr just kind of made me sick. In my opinion, the dining services need to improve the quality of their food.”

McGraw eventually started going to Maple, which served vegan food, but being without meat upset her health.

Executive director of UNT dining services Bill McNeace urges people who are negatively affected by the dining services to come to them with their complaints. Whereas some companies and groups are put off by criticism and complaints, McNeace says their service thrives on it.

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Psychology senior Ryan Rackley serves customers at the GAB coffee shop on October 5. Ranjani Groth | Staff Photographer

“Anything regarding food lands on my plate,” McNeace said. “With that said, the dining service and I exist for complaints. Any complaint is a good thing, because we are always looking at how we can improve the eating experience.”

One issue, debated at the monthly Dining Advisory Committee meeting last Monday, was the portion size of the food served at UNT. According to McNeace, the portion sizes that people are used to when they go out to restaurants can be two to two and a half times the size of what a normal serving should be.

Because residential dining halls and services provide servings that meet the dietary guidelines, McNeace said students have complained about not getting enough food. After dining services received the complaints, McNeace said they were quickly able to fix the situation.

“We still do standard portions, but students can get however many servings they wish,” McNeace said. “We want to make everyone feel happy and important.”

McNeace said they try to find the best workers possible to serve the UNT population. However, with the ever-changing student population at UNT, it can sometimes be difficult to continuously hire new workers and get them up to speed quickly.

McNeace said he wants students to know they can come to the dining services at any time with complaints, no matter how long, in-depth or serious.

“We exist 100 percent for the students,” McNeace said. “We are always looking at how we can engage the members of the university to not just go to class and back to the parking lot. People need to experience the many things we have to offer.”

Although branches of the UNT system often receive both negative and positive criticisms, Rackley said in the end, those comments are what makes UNT a better, stronger campus.

“We aren’t perfect,” Rackley said, “but we are trying to become the best service we can possibly be with what we have.”

Featured Image: Psychology senior Ryan Rackley serves students at the UNT food court on October 12. Ranjani Groth | Staff Photographer

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