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“The kitchen is the focal point in any home. Our spaces like the Beaver Dam and in and around the Student Center become that place, home away from home — food, activity, friendship, really building something — so philosophically, we’ve made some changes and believe that Sodexo was by far the superior provider of that opportunity going forward.”
Kevin Harmon, vice president for student affairs

University Communications

Dining changes make food the central focus of the student experience

MINOT, N.D. – In late-May, Minot State University finalized a new contract with Sodexo for food services on campus. Kevin Harmon, vice president for student affairs, said the new contract, which is much more detailed and specific, grants the university more control over offerings and food quality.

“You have a voice," Harmon said discussing the role of students, faculty, and staff under the new contract. "We’re going to listen. We’re going to try to make the change and improvements and try to chase being perfect because that's really what people want us to try to do. So I’m not going to tell you that we’re going to be perfect, but we’re going to never give up on trying to be perfect.”

“The new contract allows Minot State to hold Sodexo more accountable as well as keep a better line of communication between the two parties," Amelia Hamman, Residential Housing Association president added. “It will allow us to control more what Minot State wants as a school. Minot State said what they wanted, and the companies (Sodexo and A’viands) bid based on those requests, so Sodexo will be expected to stay true to those requests and requirements.”

Under the new contract, all food on campus will be located on the second floor of the Student Center, and the cafeteria will be open from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. offering students more flexibility. Harmon said the new contract is just the starting point for a vision that will take Minot State well into the future.

“The kitchen is the focal point in any home,” Harmon said. “Our spaces like the Beaver Dam and in and around the Student Center become that place, home away from home — food, activity, friendship, really building something — so philosophically, we’ve made some changes and believe that Sodexo was by far the superior provider of that opportunity going forward.”

The unlimited meal plan option will allow students to treat the cafeteria like a kitchen at home where they can come and go as they please according to Aaron Richard, Student Government Association president.

“Our cafeteria is now the kitchen of campus. It’s like at home. You can go to the cupboards and grab whatever you want whenever you want,” Richard said. “That’s what we were hoping to get toward with this, so I think that's something that people are going to be really excited about and eager to use.”

New offerings include a rotisserie and meat carving station, hard ice cream and a milkshake station, and, according to Patrick Friley, operations manager for Sodexo, there will be serving stations that focus on clean, allergen-free meals for those with the eight common allergens. Even with a remodel and these additions, meal prices will stay relatively the same.

“Part of our position was that we want more and we don't want to pay a lot more,” Harmon said.

Centralizing the food to the second floor and utilizing the bar in the Beaver Dam for coffee and food service offers new opportunities for the Student Center to become the place on campus where students, faculty, staff, and the community want to be.

“We’re in the planning stages right now of adding a few focal points on campus that would draw people to it, and right now we're simply in the fact-finding stage,” Harmon said.

As SGA president, Richard has been a part of this research and planning since the beginning stages and said the campus has what it needs to attract students but lacked programming in the past.

“There's so much more out there that they (Sodexo) can do to engage students and get them excited about the experience that hasn’t been going on,” Richard said.

Those Sodexo-sponsored events include theme nights and events like taco eating contests, which Sodexo offered for Cinco de Mayo in May.

“I am really looking forward to the new cafe and the options,” Hamman said. “I am looking forward to seeing what the renovations will look like as well. It's exciting to see all the improvements being made on campus and I hope that everyone else will enjoy them as well.”  

ABOUT MINOT STATE UNIVERSITY
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 07/02/18



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