Night Owls Need Food Too

BY BRITTANY SEEMUTH
SEEMUTHB@MTMARY.EDU

Night Owl Cartoon     It is not news to the Mount Mary University community that the campus offers multiple food service stations. All of them close by 8 p.m. during the school week.

For the spring 2015 semester, Mount Mary offered more than 80 night classes, which start at 6 p.m. or later. Many do not end until 10 p.m. It is not uncommon for students to race to class directly from work. While some instructors provide students with a break before 8 p.m. so they can purchase food before services end, others do not break until after the food service stations close, leaving students hungry and scrambling to the vending machines.

Teresa Wooster is a first-year graduate student seeking a master’s degree in English with a professional writing concentration. Wooster is allowed one 15-20 minute break during her 6-9:50 p.m. course to purchase food before the stations close.

“Overall, I was surprised by how limited the accommodations are and how limited healthier options are,” Wooster said.
“When eating a late night snack, I prefer options for fresher, low-calorie food.”

All of them close by 8 p.m. during the school week. : Cyber Café and Parkway Place Grill. Of the two, Parkway Place offers hot food made to order, but the grill at Parkway closes at 7:30 p.m.

Beth Vogel is the accelerated program coordinator and an assistant professor in the business department. As a night class instructor, Vogel acknowledged the difficulties of accessing hot food.

“Cyber Café is not able to prepare sandwiches to order or grilled items since they don’t have a grill or fryer,” Vogel said.
“I know there are food inspection rules that dictate what can be prepared or sold there. That means students need to go to Parkway Place Grill for hot food. The location makes that difficult for students who are coming to school straight from work and need to be in class by 6 p.m., since most classes are held in
Notre Dame Hall.”

As the director of food services at Mount Mary, Penny Schultz tries to balance student food requests and keeping food and labor
costs low. Surveys were conducted by the university and FSI, and according to Schultz, the surveys did not indicate a strong enough request from the student body for more flexibility in terms of night food accommodations.

“FSI has been trying to keep all meal plan costs down, but with extended hours that would impact meal plans and incur more labor costs on our part,” Schultz said.

“FSI takes pride in being competitive and working to keep costs down with the university and in turn student body. This could be extending hours of service
or otherwise. Sales statistics show that keeping the food accommodations open longer is something we cannot support.”

Schultz did, however, explain two options that students can choose between if they need to order food ahead of time.

FOOD BOX OPTIONS FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER

“These are sheets that students can collect from me and request what they would like to eat,” Schultz said.
“They need to order this 48 hours in advance. In turn, they come to the kitchen and ask for their meal. I then deduct their meal from their meal plan.”

With the box option, Schultz cited some difficulty with food pick-up.

“In the past, students have asked for this option and then do not pick up their meal,” Schultz said. “This affects my labor costs and food costs. We have been limiting this option.”

PARKWAY PIZZA PICK-UP

“This year I made door hanger signs that we offer 14-inch pizzas at Parkway and students can call ahead and place a order,” Schultz said.

“At Cyber, we offer the ‘on the go’ food options and this only sells during the lunch hour.”

Nikki Lueck is a junior in the accelerated program, majoring in business and professional communication. Lueck is taking two night classes this semester. She explained that while fresh food selection is limited by the time night classes begin, she has also noticed a larger problem with food services.

“Numerous times since the semester began in January, the Cyber Café has closed prior to 8 p.m., which is when they are supposed to close,” Lueck said. “The explanations provided have been that they have had to do this because of personnel issues (such as somebody not showing up for their shift). While I can
appreciate that this happens from time to time, it seems to be that this is becoming excessive with the Cyber Café.”

Lueck said expanding food service options would allow Mount Mary to be more competitive with area schools.

“To remain a competitive and attractive school, especially for returning adult students, they need be vigilant about maintaining excellent benefits like food options being reliable and offering variety,” Lueck said. “This makes students in the accelerated program feel like they matter.”

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