You are here


New York University Dining provider: Aramark

University Business, Oct 2009

New York University

Signs explaining the origin of local foods help NYU students make informed choices.

Total full-time enrollment: 32,237

Institution type: Four-year private

Total number of campus dining facilities: There are 12 locations, 6 dining halls, 5 retail locations

Number of full-service dining facilities (serving three meals a day): 6

Square footage of each main dining facility: 2,500 square feet

Location(s) of full-service dining facility on campus: located in residence halls spread around the main campus. Hayden Dining Hall is located at 33 Washington Square West, New York, NY

Name of any dining services provider/s: ARAMARK

Hayden Hall was opened in the 1950’s as a residence hall for New York University law students. Currently the building provides housing and dining services for nearly 700 students. In the summer of 2007 the dining hall underwent a 2.3 million dollar renovation to upgrade the serving area and dining room. Before these renovations, the dining hall had been last upgraded in 1987.

In 2007 New York University (NYU) implemented NYU Green, a sustainability task force tasked with recommending a prioritized Green Action Plan to improve NYU’s environmental footprint; engaging faulty, students and administration in sustainability efforts. Hayden Dining represents the university’s premiere sustainable dining facility and provides the campus with sustainable dining, healthy menu options and environmentally friendly programs, which tie into both the overall and sustainable mission of the university.

  • Local and Sustainable: Hayden purchases locally grown produce whenever possible. In addition to produce, NYU Dining participates in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Safe Watch seafood program.
  • Natural Foods: A selection of antibiotic free cheeses that are produced with out accelerators as well as meats produced without cereal fillers are offered at the deli station.
  • Vegan/Vegetarian: The main attraction of the serving area is a central food bar comprised of a vegan entr?e section and a salad bar with plentiful varieties of toppings, composed salads and fresh fruits.
  • Education: Several professors teaching sustainability at NYU bring their classes to Hayden. Students dine while leaning practical methods of making existing structures more sustainable.

The renovation better utilized the seating area by breaking up the dining hall into sections and giving customers a large variety of seating options. The seating area now includes longer dining room tables, circular tables for more intimate dining and covered bench-style seating along the walls that lends large groups. The serving area was redesigned in a circular pattern for a more efficient traffic flow pattern through the serving area and into the seating area. In addition is may be easily arranged and used for town hall meetings.

NYU Dining’s sustainable initiatives were driven by the campus community; the students, faculty and administration. The global community and awareness on the importance of implementing sustainable practices also helped drive green practices.

  • Recycled materials were used in the renovation of the dining hall (2007). The flooring is made from recycled glass. The tables are also partly recycled. Instead of completely replacing the tables, the bases of the original tables were salvaged and given new tops, made from bamboo.
  • There is an ongoing commitment to utilizing locally grown produce and sustainable seafood whenever possible (2007).
  • Hayden uses biodegradable take out containers and utensils made from a potato derivative, which breakdown faster that traditional takeout containers and plastic-wear (2007).
  • Only Fair Trade Certified coffee is served in campus dining facilities (2008).
  • In effort to reduce food waste, dining trays were removed and Tray Free Zones were implemented in the majority of dining halls (2008).
  • Pre-consumer kitchen waste and recyclable cans are collected by the university’s Recycling Taskforce (2008).

Dining Services has an ongoing communication that includes a daily feedback process within each dining location as well as a large scale customer satisfaction survey with analysis performed by an independent research firm.

  • Comment cards are available in all campus dining locations. Customers write their comments or requests on a card, they have the option of leaving contact information if they whish personal follow-up. Each day managers reply to the comments and post the cards on a dedicated comment board located in the seating area.
  • Each semester focus groups are held in each dining location to gather customer feedback on the current dining program. The groups are facilitated by the Marketing Manager, the location’s manager and chef also participates in the discussions. Afterward, a summary of the focus group as well as recommendations are presented to the location manager and the senior management team.
  • Each semester an extensive Dining Styles Survey is administered to measure customer satisfaction with the dining program. The survey is run by an independent market research company. This survey gleans customer service and program satisfaction and uncovers trends for the campus as well as nationally.

NYU Dining has implemented a service oriented culture where all staff and employees are expected to put customer needs first. Human Resources have developed programs to cultivate and reinforce this mindset with our employees.

  • Hospitality Training was first implemented in 2007 to ensure that employees know what is expected of them by customers and how to provide great service in all situations, even difficult ones. The training course is now provided each year to reinforce customer service standards.
  • The Customer Service Committee is a dining taskforce made up of frontline employees that gather to share success stories, discuss opportunities and recommended tactics to improve customer satisfaction.
  • Employee of the Month/Year is a recognition program where each location awards an employee every moth based on predetermined criteria including customer service. At the end of the year, one employee is selected from among the monthly winners as the employee of the year. This employee is honored by the senior management team in front of his peers during the annual Employee Holiday Party.

Incoming students’ primary focus when entering an intuition of higher learning is education. However, the extracurricular activities, services and programs offered help to shape a person’s college experience. Therefore, it is important that NYU Dining is representative of the quality, diversity and innovation that is apart of the university’s mission. Dining achieves this through innovative programs, such as Sunday Brunch and Hayden’s sustainable program, flexible meal plan options and with high quality menus and customer service. We communicate our program to incoming students in the following ways:

  • During campus tours and orientations students are able to view dining halls and receive testimonials form tour leaders who are also NYU students.
  • Incoming students receive informative direct mail to help students and their parents understand the dining program and meal plan options.
  • During summer orientation, Dining Services participates in orientations and campus resource fairs to help education students and aid them in selecting a meal plan that meets their needs.
  • Our dining website contains extensive information on the dining program including links to published articles on NYU Dining and the Hayden sustainable program. The Dining Consciousness page highlights all of our sustainability and healthy eating initiatives.

The sheer nature of a sustainable dining program is more expensive than a traditional dining program; the consequence of this would be a less profitable dining program. The possibility of a smaller return was understood; however, it was felt that there was a greater benefit in having a sustainable program, which shows innovation and helps to reduce NYU’s carbon foot print. The program also affords the opportunity to test, study and to further develop a successful sustainable dining model. When the sustainable program was introduced it generated a tremendous interest level and customer counts doubled. This increases in volume helped generate labor efficiencies, thereby creating cost savings. Labor efficiency is the key driver of Hayden’s profitability. The economic climate has made it necessary to better manage cost while giving customers the same level of quality and variety. To ensure we are getting the best pricing available we increased our sustainable vendors from one to three. We now receive better pricing and have access to larger selection of goods. As a cost saving measure, we reduced purchases of precut fruits, vegetables and of prepared composed salads. Instead, we trained our employees to cut and mix these items in-house.