Student Government Association Works With UIndy Dining to Meet Student Needs, Concerns and Improve Sustainability

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The University of Indianapolis Student Government Association has recently begun a partnership with UIndy Dining. According to SGA Dining Representative and sophomore exercise major Jona Hogle, the goal of this collaboration is to improve the quality of the service at UIndy Dining and make students feel that they have a sense of home on campus. 

Hogle said he personally reached out to Executive Chef Taylor Hignite about things he wanted to see changed or ways in which UIndy Dining could meet his food accommodation needs. After that, SGA invited Hogle to volunteer and work with them in order to build a true collaboration. 

“Aside from myself, [SGA] was working on food sustainability proposals and working with UIndy Dining to make sure that we could limit food waste, and we could try and find a way to redistribute food waste or food that would be wasted to people around Indianapolis who could be in need or food banks or food rescues and so on,” Hogle said.

Hogle said SGA and UIndy Dining have been working with an organization called Second Helpings, an Indianapolis-based hunger relief organization, to learn more about what UIndy can do to help with food insecurity and food redistribution. While UIndy Dining oversees the bulk of this transaction with Second Helpings, Hogle said students can always reach out to SGA if they would like to volunteer to help. 

“At the end of the day, if we have extra food that we didn’t use, that is still in perfect condition, or say, food that can be repurposed, they [Second Helpings] will come maybe once or twice a week … and we will package the food in cases and in boxes which they will pick up and they can take back to either give out to people who need,” Hogle said.

Resident District Manager Amy Dugan said UIndy Dining has worked to tackle the food insecurity issue in Indianapolis before, but that it was stifled during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Dugan, now that SGA has stepped in to help tackle this issue with UIndy Dining, they want to continue this project.

Hogle said SGA has been working throughout the year to build connections on campus with entities like UIndy Dining. He said in addition to working on sustainability proposals, SGA has also been working with UIndy Dining to extend the hours and provide better options for students. Hogle said that if, for example, a student does not get out of class or practice until after the dining hall is closed, their only option would be Streets Grill. Hogle said he hopes with extended dining hall hours will come more opportunities for students to eat balanced, healthy meals consistently. 

“I know students who have class late at night from 6-8:50 [p.m.], they come back and all they can eat is chicken nuggets and fries,” Hogle said. “If we have to do that every single day of the week, it’s not very nice. So extending the dining hall hours is a big priority so that student-athletes on campus can have more of an option. We can build healthier eating habits, and a great sense of community to come out and eat late at night, rather than stopping at seven.”

Photo by Allison Cook SGA Dining Hall Representative and sophomore exercise science major Jona Hogle presents plans concerning dining operations on campus to Executive Chef Taylor Hignite, Director of Operations Philip Zernia and Resident District Manager Amy Dugan.

Dugan said UIndy Dining has always wanted a strong relationship with student government as well as the student body. She said by working with SGA, she hopes they will be able to bridge the communication gap between students and their wants and needs and connect them to UIndy Dining in order to create change. 

“We’ve always had a relationship with the student government,” Dugan said. “I think that this year it became a much more developed relationship with Stephano’s leadership. It was one of his goals when he was elected president to really branch out into the community and help give the students a voice, especially to certain programs that really affect student life every day, dining being one of them.”

With the student government election for the 2024-25 academic year underway, Hogle said he hopes to continue being a liaison between SGA and UIndy Dining, regardless of who is elected. He said dining and food quality are vital pieces of building a community on campus, and he is committed to helping this process. Hogle said he encourages students to reach out to SGA or to UIndy Dining if they have issues or questions they want to be addressed. He said he is working on creating a Google Form for students to give constructive feedback and complaints, so UIndy Dining they can work through the issues together and create a better community. 

Dugan said UIndy Dining has a QR Code and a texting app for students to interact with dining staff regularly and directly, but that SGA can also serve as a point of contact. She said because there are so many avenues for students to voice their opinions and concerns, she hopes dining will become a more involved part of campus life.

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