Dining Services works to update and post more nutritional information on its website
Student Life reported earlier this year that Dining Services was behind in posting nutritional information, and that information available was, in certain instances, incorrect. Bear’s Den, for example, rarely serves tater tots in the prescribed 12-tot portion, and Paws & Go provides information for a four ounce frozen yogurt portion that is typically out of stock.
Dining Services Executive Chef David Murphy said the effort to update the information is complex and ongoing and is highly dependent on student and chef feedback.
Chefs develop recipes based on the ingredients in their inventory. Murphy then looks at submissions to make sure they are acceptable before submitting them to the school dietician. The overall process, from idea to fully vetted recipe, can take between two days and two weeks.
Murphy said there are numerous difficulties that keep Dining Services from posting nutritional information for all of its offerings.
“The finish line is ever elusive,” Murphy said. “It never stops because we are always changing our recipes, changing our options, changing what the stations make; we are looking to be ahead of the game. If you ask me tomorrow what we will be working on, it will be different than it was today because it is always changing.”
Dining Services recently contacted Wasabi, the provider of packaged sushi on campus, and has made the nutritional information of each sushi package available to students.
It is also working to post the nutritional information for “Quick Bites,” the small snacks next to the registers in the library and all campus cafés.
Director of Marketing Jill Duncan said that while Dining Services may never achieve its goal of listing all items served at all locations and times, it is making significant improvements.
“There will never be a place where we go ‘we are done,’ because we change things constantly and seasonally, and we want to keep things new and fresh. I think we have, however, come a really long way,” she said.
Murphy noted that other Bon Appétit clients, including Duke University, have called the University’s Dining Services to ask how it creates its recipes and finds relevant nutritional information to reproduce the process at their facilities.
Murphy and Duncan said that Dining Services continues to seek student feedback, which is the driving force behind the changes it pursues.
“At the end of it, our goal is to have variety, options, creative cuisine and correct information so that when you make the choices you feel good about the choices,” Murphy said.
While some students have been dissatisfied with the lack of nutritional information available online in the past, others have found the online information helpful.
“I am a vegetarian, and I [find] being a vegetarian here extremely easy,” junior Julianne Gagnon said. “There’s a lot of information online, but most people know about [the website].”
Sophomore Rebecca Fogel said she understands the University’s challenges in keeping nutritional information up to date.
“I think [Bon Appétit] did a good job. I wouldn’t expect the dining hall to have all this info online,” Fogel said.