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Dining hall satisfaction increases by two percent

The overall satisfaction for campus dining locations on campus was 77 percent, two percent higher than 2018, according to a press release from Brandeis Dining on its annual satisfaction survey. Sixty-five percent of students also responded that they either “definitely would” or “probably would” recommend any dining location on campus to a friend or fellow student, six percent higher than in 2018. 

Brandeis dining defines dining locations on campus as: Sherman Dining Hall, Lower Usdan Dining Hall, Upper Usdan, Louis’ Deli, The Hoot Market C-Store, Einstein’s Bagels and The Stein. 

The annual survey conducted by Sodexo was completed between Oct. 21 and Nov. 2 and received 469 responses. The Hoot Market C-Store had the highest overall satisfaction rate out of all dining locations, with 92 percent satisfaction. This was followed closely by Einstein Bagels at 91 percent, Upper Usdan and Louis’ Deli, both at 82 percent, The Stein at 77 percent, Sherman Kosher at 74 percent, 64 percent for Lower Usdan and 54 percent for Sherman non-Kosher. 

“We are very appreciative of all the feedback provided in our annual dining satisfaction survey,” said Andy Allen, Sodexo General Manager, in the press release. “Our team has met several times to discuss the results and enact any immediate changes. We will continue to make updates into the spring semester based on our action plan developed by the survey feedback.”

Nancy Zhai ’22, Senator-at-Large and the chair of the Senate Dining Committee, told The Brandeis Hoot in an email that the survey keeps an open dialogue with Brandeis Dining and the student body. “The priority of Brandeis Dining and our committee is to learn what went well and what needs to be further addressed, which sets the tone of our weekly discussions during the meeting and what we are up to during a typical semester,” Zhai wrote. 

“This [the survey] is also a crucial process to build a collaborative and constructive relationship, letting the community know that there are always constructive dialogues going on to improve the current options, and ensuring that their feedback, concerns and suggestions are properly addressed and seriously accounted for,” Zhai added. 

Students overall had a decreased satisfaction in “variety throughout the week, menus with more fresh ingredients, and availability of nutritional information both off and online,” according to the press release. 

While completing the survey, students had the ability to identify as dining Kosher for the first time, according to the press release. “The ability to gather Kosher-specific feedback has been very valuable to operations at both Sherman and Louis Deli.” Brandeis Dining also hosted a student focus group for Kosher students. 

Through the survey, Brandeis Dining and the Senate Dining Committee have identified a number of different initiatives that they are working to implement to improve the dining experience for students. 

The Plant Action Station was added in Lower Usdan in fall 2019 to help expand the number of vegetarian options in the dining hall and to promote dietary sustainability, Zhai told The Hoot. A sauce shelf was also added to provide students a larger variety of tastes. The Hoot C-Store also incorporated new vegan and vegetarian options after students rose concerns as part of the survey. 

“[Brandeis Dining is] working on labeling every ingredient in Sherman, especially at the newly-created stir-fry station and Simple Servings to ensure dietary security,” Zhai told The Hoot. 

Future 50 Foods were also unveiled in Sherman Dining Hall earlier this week in an effort to increase the availability of cultural dishes in the dining hall, another request from a majority of responders. The program consists of plant-based ingredients that are found around the globe. “It’s a substantial step to increase plant-based options and cultural food options,” explained Zhai. “Future 50 Foods is a fantastic way to improve plant-based fresh ingredients and celebrate a variety of culture concurrently, in line with the value this institution is founded: building a diverse and inclusive community.”

Since the completion of the survey, Brandeis Dining has made improvements to various parts of the dining halls and other retail locations from suggestions left by students. The salad bar is now open in both Sherman and Lower Usdan during breakfast, and more breakfast options have been added, including Greek yogurt, chia seeds, breakfast pizzas and egg sandwiches, according to the press release. Sherman’s salad bar has also seen the addition of fresh berries and fruit. Louis’ Deli has also added vegetarian soups, and falafel is now a daily sandwich option.

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