At a town hall meeting held in the Flight Deck on Jan. 31, several students expressed concerns about dining on campus, including the quality and pricing of food and the service at Shark Dining locations.
These complaints came after Shark Dining revamped meal options at the Fort Lauderdale/Davie campus through an initiative with Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA) in time for the beginning of the Fall of 2017 semester. The Current covered the changes which included new recipes, menus and even new dining locations which included the introduction of Chef’s Table, Roma’s Italian Kitchen and Innovation Kitchen venues. The Current also spoke to Shark Dining about staffing concerns students brought to us in October.
Since the town hall meeting, The Current has spoken with students to understand what problems they may still be experiencing ahead of a public informational meeting about a “hybrid dining option” in 2018 (see inside).
Alex Lopez, senior marketing management major and USGA president, worked with Shark Dining over the summer to bring changes to food on campus, a concern he said students have had since his freshman year.
“We’re super thankful that we revamped the food [at the beginning of the year] because now there’s more of a variety and more options. That’s not the problem,” said Lopez. “Yes, Shark Dining revamped the menus and the locations, but the quality and the service still hasn’t changed and that’s the main issue.”
Lopez said that USGA has spoken to business services, President Hanbury and Shark Dining about issues regarding pricing and quality of food on campus. While Lopez wanted to stress that generally representatives from these departments are understanding and want to help, he said he wasn’t sure where the disconnect was when it comes to service and food quality.
Lopez said that students also consistently brought concerns about declining balance, or DB, and options for vegan or gluten-free students. While Shark Dining recently added more options for vegans and gluten-free students, Lopez said that these are options are mainly side dishes as opposed to full meals.
In terms of declining balance, students have a sliding scale of issues. Lopez said that student athletes often find themselves running short on DB because they have to eat an increased and steady amount of calories. Some students, on the other hand, find themselves with too much declining balance because they don’t buy enough food on campus.
That’s the case for freshman marine biology major Christian Craig, who said that he was left with “a lot” of DB at the end of last semester. Craig attributed this to skipping meals throughout the day, though he said this wasn’t because of the quality of the food.
“The food is usually adequate. It could be better but I’m okay,” said Craig, who also said he just didn’t have “too high of expectations” about food.
David Naranjo, junior environmental science major, said that when it comes to DB, students could survive the semester if they “spent it wisely.”
“But, if I wanted to buy a pop or get a coffee at Starbucks everyday outside of a normal three meals, it wouldn’t be enough,” said Naranjo.
Naranjo, like Lopez, said that there’s definitely been improvements when it comes to Shark Dining, particularly in areas of variety. In terms of pricing, Naranjo had the following to say.
“Prices would be justified if the food was good,” said Naranjo. “Sometimes it’s decent but I don’t want to be eating here everyday.”
Naranjo isn’t the only person who finds eating campus on every day unappealing.
“There is not much variety, especially if you eat on campus every single day,” said Sol Santecchia, freshman art and design major.
Sofia Austt, freshman business management major, said that the food prices also make it hard to eat healthy.
“The pricing does not help students to eat healthy. A slice of pizza is 3 times cheaper than a healthy plate,” said Austt. “It is hard to decide what to eat knowing that you have a small, limited amount of money, but at the same time you want to eat healthy.”
Craig and Naomi Franklin, biology major, both agreed that consistency was a problem with Shark Dining in terms of service and quality.
“Sometimes it’s just really not up to par,” said Franklin, who said she had just been served overcooked corn.
Franklin said that sometimes the food is edible but other times was very disappointing. She used the example of eggs she had last Saturday.
“They were the most bland eggs I’ve ever had in my life,” said Franklin.
The Current reached out to Shark Dining for comment, but has not received a response.