UDS improves food options for students

The conclusion of the 2013-2014 school year also brought a conclusion to more than 40 years of Polk Food Services at the University of Indianapolis.

The university has since taken over and switched its food services to UIndy Dining Services. With the switch came many changes to the dining service at the university. The dining options available on campus include The Market Place, which is the traditional dining hall, Streets Corner, The Perk Coffee Shop and Hound Express. The primary goal of the dining service is to make sure it is serving the students the best it can. But with any change comes many flaws. One of the flaws is the increased prices.

“I just say my biggest problem is the prices,” said junior sports management major Da’Chera Baker. “I believe the quality of the food has improved, especially the options in the grab and go.”

A UDS worker preps the food in the dining hall. With Ted Polk’s retirement last year, Polk Food Services has changed to UIndy Dining Services, which is working to provide healthier food options to students. Photo by Laken Detweiler
A UDS worker preps the food in the dining hall. With Ted Polk’s retirement last year, Polk Food Services has changed to UIndy Dining Services, which is working to provide healthier food options to students. Photo by Laken Detweiler

General Manager of UDS Diane Szalai has addressed the increase in prices by referring to the ones in the marketplace.

“That’s [increased prices] what’s been happening with the food prices everywhere. What you pay now for produce is so much more,” Szalai said. “We try to balance out our cost for what we offer. It’s simple economics-supply and demand.”

The dining service is working toward making more culture and variety choices available for students. This can be seen in the foods that recently have become available in the Hound Express, with more diverse options such as sushi and hummus. The dining service understands that students may not have time to stop by the cafeteria to get food before classes or may want a burrito or a burger. Making sure there are options available for those students has an impact on the improvements in Hound Express.

“What we’re working towards, one of the things that I’ve noticed, are the menu options,” Szalai said. “There seems to be a lot of truly unhealthy, a lot of heavy foods. I can tell you that we won’t be taking away the burgers, but I think it is important for young people to have the option of healthy food, as well as have the burger and fries. It’s also about giving new items.”

Szalai said the university dining service has become a limited liability company. Becoming an LLC was like starting a new company for UIndy. The UIndy Dining Services staff is working toward making the transition easy, while still making plenty of changes. The focus on the satisfaction of the students of UIndy has not changed.

“We’re changing a lot of things, and there is a big learning curve for everyone, the workers for the department. And then there is a learning curve for the university as well,” Szalai said. “But the one similarity is that everyone wants to do a nice job for the students, everyone from the dish washer up to the board of trustees. I can say that that has been the same statement from everyone—it’s about the students.”

There have been additions and improvements put in place in the past for those who suffer from food allergies, and there are more changes and improvements expected in October for the dining hall.

“We’re working on changing the menus,” Szalai said. “In October, you are going to see a much-improved allergy bar. We’ve met with a couple of students that have allergy issues, so we are working on a new menu with that.”

This will involve including more options to the allergy bar

“I see what we put out now with the simple steamed chicken breast, and it just doesn’t look appealing to me at all,” Szalai said. “We can do so much better. I haven’t touched on the food court yet, but I am thinking specials … just something a little bit different, a lot more variety, a lot fresher, without taking away from the standards.”

Sophomore psychology major Connor Windmiller has been pleased with the changes that have been made on the campus.

“I feel like there are good changes. I am really satisfied with the changes in the past year. I think there are healthier options,” Windmiller said. “I can go in for lunch and get protein and vegetables without all the fatty foods as compared to last year.”

Anyone with suggestions for changes should contact UIndy Dining Services via email at uindydining@gmail.com.