Campus eateries look to unite student body
Published: Sunday, February 12, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 16:11
Real Food on Campus (RFoC) serves approximately 3,000 meals a day, with the number of freshmen diners far surpassing upperclassmen.
Over the years, RFoC, located in the basement of the Umphrey Lee Center, has taken on the reputation of being the freshman food hall, a status that Michael Marr, the senior director of dining services at SMU, is working to change.
"We want to create a community space where students feel like it's a place they can go interact with one another, get involved with other students … but at the same time have a good meal," Marr said. "What we're trying to get away from is it's viewed by upperclassmen as a freshman dining hall."
Since its renovation in 2007, RFoC has made many changes and improvements to try and grab the attention of upperclassmen.
The addition of gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options, along with "Wild Wednesdays," "Healthy on the Hilltop," theme nights and "International Street Fair" are popular with current diners.
First years Meredith Carey and Kenna Rood like the theme nights and said that state fair night was "awesome."
Marr is also trying to stay up to date with the trends, bringing such concepts as the food truck to SMU.
RFoC is "trying to do things that are trendy, that appeal to students, faculty and staff and meet the needs of the community," Marr said.
Marr is also hoping to get contracts with other food trucks to bring more variety to SMU.
"We want to educate you but provide the variety and also make it exciting," he said.
Marr is currently working on a marketing plan, which includes giving free RFoC dining passes to upperclassmen to make them aware of the changes that have taken place.
And, making them aware is no easy feat.
"The grad students and upper class students that come love it, but how do we get the message out?" Marr asked.
It is no surprise that he wants to see more students utilize RFoC as his staff and team work to bring improvements to the dining scene at SMU.
However, some SMU students believe that more options and changes are still needed.
"There are some days when I'm looking around and I actually can't think of anything that's there that I want to eat," Carey said. "There are more stations that stay the same than there are that change."
Among the dining changes that Carey would like to see implemented is an improvement in healthy foods.
"It would be nice to have a wide variety of vegetables because the only steamed vegetables are in the healthy station, and it's like carrots or broccoli every day," Carey said.
Rood would also like to see healthier options, including better lettuce, as the only options are spinach and iceberg, "which is probably cheaper but not as good for you," she said.
Having RFoC make sandwiches with wheat bread instead of white is also important to Rood.
"I won't eat something just because it's made with white bread because it's really bad for you," she said.
Carey and Rood would also like to see a snack section implemented where students can take smaller items to go.
"Not being allowed to leave with a muffin in the morning is not healthy," Carey said. "What's the difference whether I eat it in the building or on my way to class?"
The Daily Campus contacted SMU Dining's dietician Claire Florsheim for comment on these suggestions but did not receive a response.
Marr says students' suggestions are being heard, and through platforms like RFoC's text feedback program, students can have a say in their dining options.
"The vegan station, the ‘Healthy on the Hilltop,' all of these things have been based on student feedback," Marr said.
Carey and Rood, however, were both unaware of how to get in touch with RFoC.
"I think you could put them [suggestions] in, or I'm sure they have a box somewhere, but a lot of people just don't know how to do that," Rood said.
Any changes that are being implemented do not go unnoticed.
Both Carey and Rood feel that RFoC is doing a better job this semester and enjoy many of the changes that have taken place.
"I think they're doing a good job. They're never going to be perfect, but I do think they're doing a good job with what they've got," Carey said.