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Rich Turnbull–Food for Thought  November 5th, 2009

Last week I talked about budget issues and the resulting change in hours.  After listening to a number of queries from customers we made some adjustments to those hours which were implemented on Monday.  In addition to customer feedback about dining hours, we also hear much feedback about the need for nutrition information in our dining centers.  This fall we have begun posting calorie information on menu boards, as well as posting full nutrition labels online for our regular menu items.  We are presently working on updating the nutritional information for all items on our menus, which are posted on the web at

Tara Sanders, the Registered Dietician for University Housing and Dining Services, will be working over the next several months to continue to update the nutrition information on the website.

I thought you might be interested in what we’ve seen in purchases this year compared to last.  While there are many factors that influence a purchasing decision, and I don’t pretend to claim that the posting of calories has impacted buying habits, it is possible that it has.  Here are last year’s top ten purchases compared to this year’s top ten purchases (in order of popularity):

Last year

  1. Deli Sandwiches
  2. Pizza
  3. Stir Fry
  4. Calzini’s
  5. Teriyaki Chicken
  6. Scrambled Eggs
  7. Cereal
  8. Chicken Strips
  9. Cheese burger
  10. Bacon Cheeseburger

This year

  1. Deli Sandwiches
  2. Pizza
  3. Calzini’s
  4. Breakfast Burrito
  5. Scrambled Eggs
  6. Stir Fry
  7. Cheeseburger
  8. Teriyaki Chicken
  9. Chicken Strips
  10. Bacon Cheeseburger

This also makes me wonder if there is some phenomenal item you’d like to see on the menu that we aren’t serving or if you have a recipe for something you would like for us to prepare.  Our culinary team meets twice a month and are continually working on new products, new recipes, watching trends in the restaurant industry, and trying to bring to campus the latest ideas in food trends.  If you have a recipe idea, please share that with us.  We are developing a Recipe From Home contest and any recipes you submit now, we’ll hang on to and enter into the contest later if you’d like us to.  Also, if you have thoughts on the posting of nutrition information, we’d like to hear that also.  It will help shape our decision making as we move forward to provide more information on the products we serve.

Best regards,

Rich Turnbull

Associate Director

University Housing And Dining Services


Rich Turnbull–Dining Hours Adjustments  October 26th, 2009

Now that we’ve arrived at or near the middle of fall term I’d like to share with you some of the feedback we’ve received from our customers and how we’ve responded. During the summer it became evident that University Housing and Dining Services needed to reduce our department budget by approximately $2 million dollars in order to fund renovation and facility upgrades to keep our residences and dining centers safe and livable. The largest expense in Dining Services is the cost of labor of preparing and serving more than 2 million meals during the year. Labor hours and therefore labor costs are directly related to the hours of operation. So to make the adjustment necessary to achieve the budget reductions required in Dining Services we needed to reduce the hours of operation. Based on last year’s pattern of customer traffic I made adjustments that I felt would yield the greatest labor savings with the minimum impact on customer service.

Every year customer traffic patterns change a bit and this year is no different. Some of the reductions in hours have had a greater impact on customers than we initially thought. I have been carefully timing the length of time it takes for a customer to be served in each of our restaurants, monitoring sales in each of our 17 restaurants in 15 minute increments, and have read carefully the comments that have been submitted to our online feedback form. Before making further adjustments to changes in operational hours I asked each of our managers to hold off until the drop/add dates had passed and then to recommend to me, based on their observations and the feedback you’ve given us, what hours if any should be added back or modified.

I now have that information and would like to share that with you. At McNary Dining Center RainTree Coffee Co. will open a half hour earlier at 7:00am and close a half hour earlier at 3:30pm. At Marketplace West EBGB’s will also open a half hour earlier at 7:00am. Clubhouse Deli will stay open an hour longer until 7:00pm. Tomassito’s will stay open on Sunday’s an additional half hour until 7:30pm. At Arnold Center the Bistro will close a half hour earlier at lunch at 3:00pm, allowing us to keep Cascadia Market open an hour later until 10:00pm. These adjustments will be implemented by November 1st. I believe we can make these adjustments and still achieve our goal of reducing expenses of the Dining program by about $1 million. This has a significant impact on helping University Housing and Dining Services minimize rate increases for living on campus.