Food Services Responds to Negative Feedback

Staff Introduce New Changes to Refresh and Reasons for High Prices 

Justin Eisinga | Reporter

Every couple years, Campus Services sends a survey to all students in order to gather feedback on the state of food services at Redeemer University College. Believe it or not, the information gleaned from these surveys actually leads to little tweaks, and in this year’s case, a significant change. 

"Food is a very personal thing and everyone has different preferences,” says Doreen Gringhuis, director of Campus Services at Redeemer. “Campus Services, along with Sodexo, our food service provider, strives to give all students the best experience possible when dining on campus.” This commitment to providing the best experience is the fuel behind initiatives such as the student survey.

The biggest change on the horizon: extended hours for ReFresh. As a result of this year’s survey and the work of Commuter Student Advisor Chelsey Hurst, ReFresh will remain open until 6:00 pm on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday beginning in September 2015. This will provide commuter and off-campus students the opportunity to purchase dinner if they need to be at the school into the evening.

In general, this year’s Food Services survey saw solid improvement in student satisfaction across the board – except for one area that always seems to stick out like a sore thumb. According to the results of the survey, students experienced varying levels of dissatisfaction with Redeemer’s Market, especially in the areas of cost and selection.

This is an issue that never ceases to be an area of concern for students. However, it is an issue that is extremely difficult to address, according to Campus Services. At the end of the day, what it comes down to is the fact that the Redeemer Market has smaller purchasing power compared to large supermarkets such as No Frills or Food Basics.

With a background in business and economics, Gringhuis wants students to know that, simply put, it costs more for the Market to bring products in because they are ordering less. “We don’t even mark up the groceries. We mark them up at such a small percentage just to cover costs,” says Gringhuis.

Typically, grocery stores can offer produce and staple items at cheap prices because they are ordering significant levels of stock. At the end of the day, Redeemer’s Market just can’t compete with such a system.

“It’s very difficult to satisfy the needs of students in a grocery store when it’s not really a grocery store,” continues Gringhuis. “This portion of Redeemer’s meal plan is subsidized. We actually lose money on this.”

Another misconception that Campus Services wants to make clear: any profits of Redeemer’s food services that are made don’t end up in the hands of Sodexo, they stay in the coffers of Redeemer University College (although these profits are very small). Campus Services is ultimately responsible for the implementation and functioning of food services at the school and Sodexo is purely responsible for the management of these services.

Despite the confusion, Campus Services wants to make it clear that they are always available to answer questions as it relates to the food plan and any other concerns around food.

"Campus Services has an open door policy,” says Annette Van Soelen, Administrative Assistant in the department. “We welcome students to come in to speak with staff if they have any questions about their meal plan, RUC express accounts, communal meal or anything else pertaining to food services on campus."