Iowa State University serves thousands of students breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Many of the more than 36,000 students enrolled choose to eat their meals at a dining center. With daily traffic of students in the tens of thousands across dining centers on campus, Iowa State University has taken steps to create a better overall dining experience for customers. Some of these steps include recent renovations to dining centers, the construction of a new dining center on campus and even how students are served.
Marketing Coordinator for ISU Dining, Brittney Rutherford, says that some renovations were made to Clyde’s restaurant-style dining center.
“Our director came, he came in mid-year. He had heard from students and staff members and everything else that our lines are really, really long. He worked with the chef team to figure out how to make Clyde’s a grab and go concept, instead of a made to order,” Rutherford said.
Senior in Agronomy, Can Karacetin, agrees that the “grab and go” concept is one that should stay.
“Compared to last year, it’s much better, because last year, people would end up just waiting for quite awhile. But, right now, they can just, like, they are ready to go and they can just get it and eat it right away,” Karacetin said.
About five to six thousand students are served throughout the day at the Union Drive Marketplace Dining Center alone. How students are served at dining centers can affect their overall dining experience.
“Last fall, they tried to use student workers to serve you so that the lines would go quicker. It didn’t work,” Rutherford said.
According to Rutherford, many students disliked this option and the dining center service went back to a “self-serve plan.” However, some say this option is not the best logistical plan.
Manager at UDM, Joey Bergstrand, said a self-serve plan still may not be the best option.
“This semester, it might have been worse than what I’ve had in the past for lines. But a lot of that has been due to we’ve given the students the option to serve themselves,” Bergstrand said.
According to Bergstrand, some students may take a little bit more time to serve their own plate, but do not seem to mind as long as the line keeps moving.
“It’s kind of a hard medium to find. The problem here is just that there are so many customers at our lunch time period that it’d be really hard to do things plated,” Bergstrand said.
Another way Iowa State University plans on cutting down long lines and creating a better dining experience for students is by constructing a dining center near the Union Drive Marketplace. The new dining center will be called Friley Windows and is expected to begin serving students in fall 2017. According to Bergstrand, the new facility will be able to serve more than 300 people.
“Having that facility open to have taking a way just a certain amount of customers here would make the dining experience better for everyone,” Bergstrand said.
Some tips to reduce wait times, according to materials posted at dining centers, is to eat during “lower traffic times” if your schedule allows for it and to sit with other students you may not know if there is an open seat and you are both comfortable to do so.