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In many cases, universities such as Fashion Institute of Technology are not able to provide their students and their staffs with the quality foods. In most cases, the food which these universities give to their students is unhealthy when looking them through the lens of the modern food quality at the end. Many ask the question why this happens, and the university is one of the places where the food which they offer to the student should be next to perfect when looking at the quality. The following paper will try to analyses when many universities are not in any position to provide the students with the quality and also healthy foods.

One of the reasons why these universities fail in this quest is the population. In most cases, the university or the college student exceed the number which such a college can be able to deliver the expected food quality. When the population increases beyond the university capacity to the provision in most cases, the universities have no option but to look at the means which it can use in the process of delivering what the student want. In this case, the university only looks for the only way our which is giving the student what is readily available and also it cost implication is very limited at the end of the process. It is one of the leading factors towards this development at the end of the day.

Second is lack of the resources such as land which they can use in the process of cultivating the vegetarian crops. In most cases the land which is available to the most universities is limited, and it may not allow them to conduct any farming activity. In such a case what happens is that the university has to look for the alternative which is giving the student the cheap foods which are not costly. The idea is based on the analysis that in most cases the foods which are sourced from the vegetarian points is expensive at the end of the day.

The third reason the student’s demands. In the modern world, the students have been brought up with the perception that pizza and other junk foods are the only way to the market. With this, the student demands that the university give them these foods. Although the university has a clear understanding of these foods, it has at the end to give the student what they demand. In this case, the university must listen to the voice of the students at the end and make the appropriate adjustments. It is clear that the majority have their way while the minor have their say in the case provided. It means that the universities have to respect the student wishes at the end.

It is evidenced that many universities or colleges are giving their student food which is unhealthy at the end. With this in mind to change the current scenario, a complete overhaul is required. The students’ needs to be taught on the importance of consuming healthy foods and the implication of the junk foods. On the other part, the university requires being given resources which they can use in the purchase of the quality foods at the end. With this then the problem may be solved at the end.


Quality of Food

Dining Hall Hours

At the Fashion Institute of Technology, the hours of service at the dining hall vary day to day. From Monday through Friday, breakfast is from 7:30am to 11:30am, lunch is from 11:30am to 4:30pm, and dinner is from 4:30pm to 8pm. The hours are different on the weekends. Instead of breakfast, they have brunch from 10:30am to 2pm, and dinner is from 4:30pm to 7pm. These hours sound pretty reasonable, but if one looks closer, anyone could see that problems can arise from limited availability.

Students have very odd schedules and no schedule is the same. Some students just go to class and do their homework. Others may have jobs, internships, or may commute from their home off campus. After lots of research and discussing with other students, we learned that most students, even the ones that live on campus, either have a job or an internship that takes up a lot of their free time. Some students are only able to eat dinner later in the evening, even after 8pm. This would be a pretty late dinner, but this does happen from time to time. And after 8pm, the dining hall is closed, so now they have to buy food elsewhere even though they had already paid for a meal plan.

Other scenarios involve the complicated weekend hours. One student may work on the weekends and leave for work before they can eat breakfast at 10:30am. They then have to skip breakfast, and if they come home after 7pm, they have to miss dinner as well. Many students work on the weekends, and many have run into this problem. It is quite expensive to pay for a meal plan, but even more expensive if students have to find other food somewhere else off campus. Even for the students that do not work, there are many students that eat breakfast before 10:30am. You can find those students in the seating area, waiting probably quite impatiently for the dining hall to open so that they can eat.

These hours do not even include the special holiday hours. Students can understand why the dining hall is closed on special holidays, but it is also really difficult to find other food, since all of the traditional dorms do not have kitchens. If the dining hall is closed for Thanksgiving break or spring break, where do those students eat for those days? They already paid all of this money to eat at the dorms and they are not able to.

Dining Hall’s Cleanliness & Atmosphere

The restaurant and its cleanliness is closely related with each other like a needle and a thread. The cleanliness is one of the most significant factors of restaurant evaluation. Concern about cleanliness has not been limited to restaurants out there, however. There are many researches and studies on college students’ satisfaction of dining experiences and quality of meals at the dining halls, but not the quality of cleanliness of the dining halls. Thousands of FIT students gather in a space, Dubinsky Dining Hall, for a meal. We found that its cleanliness tremendously affects the student’s perception of service. It is evident in the survey that the most of FIT students felt that the atmosphere and cleanliness of dining hall was poor. FIT dining hall doesn’t have a particular group of people for cleaning service of dining hall. After we observed the dining hall for days, we found that there were only few people cleaning the hall who were not even particularly in charge of cleaning. The tables are especially unclean mostly all the time. Therefore, students tend to look for the clean tables to sit avoiding uncleaned tables.

The main dining hall in the Dubinsky Center has 93 tables and 290 chairs in a seating area (Fig.1). And it is 17,000 sq. ft. The number of students currently studying at FIT is 9,272. And 81% of them are full-time and 63% of them are living out of city or out of state. It shows that the majority will possibly use the dining hall with or without meal plans. Thus, these show that the flow of population using the hall seems not reasonable. Approximately 5,840 of students should be able to use sitting areas, but it seems not. And students stay in the hall not only who actually eat but also who need a space for group project discussing with classmates or simply work on their assignments with laptops. Due to not enough working stations in campus, many students stay in the cafeteria to work and this causes another problem with a lack of space in the cafeteria.

There are only 4 microwave ovens in total at the right and left side of the food station exit (Fig.2). The food utensils, plastic forks and knives, and napkins are next to the microwave ovens. Next to the main entrance of the hall, there is a waste station covered by a curved wall where students can return the used trays and throw away garbage in bins. The waste station also doesn’t have any people cleaning the space from time to time so that the space was rarely clean. Each group of tables are equipped with napkins on it so that students can clean up the tables before they leave.

In the food station, there is a grill station with a selection of burgers, quesadillas, fish fillets, etc., sandwich station, salad and soup bar, pizza, sushi and breakfast bar (Fig.3). No matter how various food choices are, the design of the food stations are not attractive enough to appeal the students both living on and off campus. And also its poor design doesn’t match with all the overpriced food. Aramark, the food supplier company FIT has, does the facilities services as well as the dining services. Some colleges are using this service to provide more clean, innovative, and unique dining halls for millennial college students. However, it seems that FIT is not interested in this.

Services cannot be thought away from customers because of its feature of concurrency and non-separation. The service customer plays a certain role in the service process. The ease with which the student cafeteria is located on campus should be the most attractive reason for students. Although it meets this point, it is numerically unacceptable, given that there is only one student cafeteria that has to accommodate thousands of students. The physical environment that customers perceive affects customer satisfaction because symbolic value affects service evaluation. For instance, the physical environment of all services, such as the interior decoration of a store, the attire of an employees, is used as an actual clue, and helps in the evaluation of the customer. This applies to student cafeterias. In the students’ evaluation of dining hall, the design and service status of the cafeteria are the second largest influential factor as well as the food quality.

Comparable Universities

Looking into the meal plan in the Dining Hall, there were problems that kept repeating themselves. One of the most important were the variety the meal plan offers. In the meal plan, one is able to receive a certain amount of food that applies to one meal. In FIT there are 6 stations where students can choose from, the grill station, salad bar, Deli Station, Chef Station, Pizza Station and the Sushi Station. The problem with these stations is that there isn’t a clear picture of what one can actually get from each station or if one can mix and match stations at all. As an example let’s take the Deli Station, one of the most popular stations, it states that if one has a meal plan, it includes, a sandwich, a beverage and chips or a small salad. But, it doesn’t state what exact beverage or chips one has to have in order to apply as one meal. If one takes the sandwich with a bottle of water and a “premium” bag of chips they would charge one meal and then extra for the bottled water and “premium” chips. There isn’t a clear statement that explains that it has to come from the soda fountain and that the chips are the ones that are beneath the deli station.

When comparing different stations to comparable universities like The New School they have more than just 6 stations, they have about 13 different stations. They don’t have a meal plan, what they provide their students is dining dollars and those dining dollars are comparable to what in FIT we call “declining balance”, which is that they have a set balance that they can spend for the semester and they only use that money towards their food. With this type of meal plan, the students are able to eat whatever they want from the Dining Hall and they don’t have to worry if the food is included in a meal plan that they spent a large amount of money on, they only have to maintain a steady amount of dining dollars throughout the semester. The prices for each of the items is about the same that FIT offers, but, the meal plan is actually much lower price than FIT. Parsons Meal plan comes at a price of $1,800 a semester, when in FIT one has to pay $2,327 a semester for 19 meals a week.

Another important issue that many people have complained about is if the food is healthy enough for college students that have special dietary needs, vegan, vegetarian or just want to eat healthy. When looking into the FIT menu, it may seem like they do have options for vegetarians, but, the problem is that the foods that are offered are the same year round, so the student that has special dietary needs will only get tired of the same food over and over again. The only “healthy” options a student has in the dining hall is the deli station, salad bar and sometimes the chef station. Other than that they don’t have any other options. Compared to The new school menu, they have a variety of foods that one can choose from that are healthy alternatives, they have an entire station dedicated to healthy food, this station is called grassroots which only offers Vegan food.

Interviews (w/ Students and Faculty)

We conducted 4 interviews with different types of students at FIT, some are sophomore, juniors but they all dorm in Kaufman Hall which is the dorms for upper division students. They all had different backgrounds, some have never gone into the dining hall while others have had a meal plan in the past. Even considering these differences, they all had the same thing in common, they don’t like to eat in the dining hall and if they do, they go to the same place. They all had in common that they would like the dining hall to have more healthier options, some students have special dietary needs and the dining hall doesn’t meet those needs. When asked about where they typically eat in the dining hall, they all said the salad bar and the chef station is the best stations for food.

When conducting an interview regarding the dining hall with Jan, the manager in charge of the dining hall. According to Jan Aramark is the only exclusive company that they get their food from. “I really like working with this company. They are very professional, high standard and secure. I trust this company to provide the best food to our students.” When asked about why they don’t provide healthier choices of food, his answer was “The problem right now with it, is that we don’t have enough space. We have a vegan station, and we try to provide fresh vegetables, proteins, cheese and gluten free product to our students. We try to help everybody, because of the footprint. Based on the number of students, they plan to redo it by next year hopefully”. Next, we discussed why each of the stations has a limited timeframe? He answered “The way it works, we close the cafeteria at 8 o’clock, however we keep open still 9 o’clock to accommodate to some student. Some days we are require closing at a certain time and someday are not. For example, on Saturday we close early because not a lot of student are in campus”. Jan also talked about how the employees in the cafeteria have been working with them for more than 50 years which show that these people love to work at the dining hall and provide the best service to the students. He goes on to talk about, how the employees are the one who clean the cooking stations in the cafeteria. When we hired them, it’s in their contract. For the rest of the cafeteria they have a cleaning crew who come in the evening after the cafeteria close.


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