20 Must-Haves for a Successful Dining Program
1. A variety of table sizes and styles?from bar stools to tables fit for a team and everything in between.
2. Comfortable seating?perhaps choosing sprung-back chairs, as the College of the Ozarks (Mo.) did.
3. Detached food stations?to avoid long lines building up.
4. Exhibition-style cooking?both entertaining and an excellent chance to get students and chefs talking.
5. Multiple checkout areas?to give diners the chance to enjoy their meals as quickly as possible.
6. Noise control?carpeting, room dividers, and separate quiet areas do the trick.
7. Local food?good for both kinds of green, and worth pointing out to diners with signage, as Furman University (S.C.) and others do.
8. Offerings for those with food allergies?and staff training to ensure safety.
9. Offerings for those with dietary preferences?from Free Trade coffee and organic foods to vegan and vegetarian choices.
10. Flexible meal plans?since not everyone lives on campus and not every resident needs three meals a day.
11. Everyday waste reduction efforts?such as having staff dole out portions for each meal (as opposed to students helping themselves from a big tray of food) or having tasting spoons on hand (as at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio).
12. Waste reduction events?to make students more aware of small things they can do to help reduce what winds up in the trash.
13. Trayless dining?because it discourages food waste and cuts down on water and energy consumption.
14. Composting?to reduce waste, and perhaps get students more involved, such as by having them empty their own plates into a bin for composting.
15. A dishroom pulper?so what must wind up in the trash is reduced in volume.
16. Initial employee training programs?to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding food safety, skills, and service.
17. Ongoing training?to keep skills and service points fresh.
18. A kitchen setup that helps avoid food contamination?Shippensburg University (Pa.) places production departments requiring refrigerated raw products close to the walk-in fridges, and the poultry prep station is located at the opposite end of the kitchen to the salad station.
19. Recognition programs?because staff deserve to be noticed for their hard work.
20. Exam week specials?think comfort food and late-night events.