CI’s New Cafeteria

By Luke Hoffman Cromwell, Staff Writer

*Published in the print edition of The CI View on Sept. 23, 2010

As students return to CSU Channel Islands for the fall semester, all eyes are upon the new improvements made to the campus over the summer break.

The new cafeteria is one of these developments designed by the school to update the dining experiences of students living both on and off-campus.

As part of the new meal plan for Channel Islands housing, students in the dorms are now able to get food using a set amount of meals for a semester on their student ID cards rather than a cash amount.

A cash amount is also available to spend on meals from the Student Union Building and the Town Center behind the John Spoor Broome Library.

To accompany the new system, the University Glen Corporation (UGC) has taken over the majority of food services and control of the cafeteria from the school’s previous catering service, Sodexo.

Executive chef Peter Maher, an employee of the UGC, said that his goal as a caterer at Channel Islands is ” getting to know what the students want.”

“We have to make sure (students) are getting the foods they want,” Maher said.

Under the UGCs new management, the cafeteria has been renovated during the summer. The cash registers are now at the front entrance, greeting students entering the hall. The serving area itself has devoted itself to being more of a buffet-style restaurant with a clear floor area.

As sophomore Logan Sackett puts it, “I think it’s set up much nicer. It’s kind of easier to get the food you want because it’s all just laid out in front of you, and it looks a lot nicer, it’s much cleaner.”

There are now stations around the café denoting the kind of food to be served, and each is named after one of the eight Channel Islands.

“We’re pretty happy with our opening so far, we’d love to get feedback from the students as well as the staff and faculty, Maher said.

Students are allowed to take as much food as they desire as long as they stay in the cafeteria; as a result, however, every time a student enters the café they must swipe their ID card to use up a meal.

Resident Assistant and senior Britney McCarthy, said “I don’t enjoy not being able to hang out and not eat anything… But besides that, I think the food is better than last year, but the atmosphere has definitely changed.”

Maher understands students frustration with not being allowed to take food out of the cafeteria. Although from a business standpoint he said, “once you step outside we really can’t allow you back in because we lose control over how many people we’re feeding at that point.”

The cafeteria is not exclusive to those in Housing with meal plans. Pricing for those who want to buy a breakfast, lunch or dinner buffet is available to any who ask cashiers at the cafeteria entrance.

For those students who commute to CSUCI, Peter Maher suggests utilizing the food options at the Student Union and the University Town Center so not all students are crowded into once place at one time.

Overall, students have been accepting the new and more accessible system with enthusiasm, all certainly thanks to the efforts of the UGC and employees like Peter Maher.

“As long as the students get us feedback, we’ll adjust to what they want, and I think they’ll find it to be an incredible deal,” Maher said. The UGC’s openness to collaboration and feedback from students, both as members of the school and as customers, will no doubt be a great asset for the future.