DC Dining Hall Problems – Craig Searle

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In a catered hall, the dining hall is the focus point of hall life. You eat and chat with your friends across the hall, committee do shout outs for upcoming events and you join in with the ‘wheeeyyy’ as someone drops their tray. The dining hall should be the best place in a catered hall, but this is not the case in David Collett. The story started a few years ago.

Campus Living wanted to get rid of DC’s dining hall a couple of years ago and make everyone walk over to Elvyn’s Dinning Hall. To get to their Dining Hall, you have to cross the most dangerous road on campus where there have been multiple incidents where ambulances have been called. The whole hall battled furiously to stop this from happening and were successful, but they had to reach a compromise where food was brought over from Elvyn.

This decision by Campus Living meant that we lost some of the Dining Hall’s staff, some of whom had been here for decades, including our chef. I was quite surprised to hear that other halls had the same food, but ours just seemed to be much tastier as though made with love.

The year didn’t start out so great; we were unable to eat in our very own Dining Hall for the majority of Freshers. Not eating in our own Dining Hall was quite disappointing to say the least and getting the Freshers buzzing was a real challenge. We were forced to go and eat in Elvyn Dining Hall. There was little hall spirit as all the Freshers were surrounded by the unfamiliar faces of Elvyn.

When we got back into our very own Dining Hall, the food was not the same as previous years. The food gets cooked and transported over to the DC Dining Hall. I have already seen this year a few trolley’s worth of food tip over but I haven’t stuck around to see what happened to it…

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When it comes to serving food, the amount of hot food serving stations has ben reduced down from two to one. So the wait time to get your food will be as twice as long. At times, we have waited up to 45 minutes to go from the back of the queue to swiping our card. When the committee asked Campus Living why they reduced the amount of hot food serving stations, they stated that they could only have two staff serving food at a time.

The other member of staff would be looking after the baguette station. The baguette station is probably the only positive change that has happened in the Dining Hall. It is alright, apart from the fact it is hardly ever used and the server never seems to be there when you want them.

But then if it is hardly used, what happens to the leftovers? In previous years, if any food was left over, the dining staff would bring the leftovers out so it didn’t go to waste. This year, it doesn’t happen. That might be because they run out of food completely. For quite a while when I came in after food has been serving for an hour, they have run of a certain menu item or vegetable. And the later you arrive, the less choice you have as things just run out.

This is entirely unfair on those who are vegetarian, gluten intolerant, or if you can’t eat certain foods. For a while, the Elvyn kitchen didn’t send over any gluten free meals and relied on those who are gluten intolerant to have a jacket potato every single meal time.

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The rules of what you can or can’t take and how much you’re allowed feels like it changes on a regular basis. The salad bar for instance was outside the serving area in previous years and you could take as much as you wanted. But from the start of the year until a few weeks ago, they put the salad bar inside the serving area and you could only visit it once.

This year we can only take one piece of fruit whereas last year we could take up to two. This may not seem much, but with the constant running out and lack of vegetables being served, this adds up. With Loughborough being known as a sporty University, you would have thought that the food they served would reflect that of an athlete. That includes plenty of fruit and vegetables to make up a balanced diet, especially to balance the quantity of potatoes served!

You may ask what has been done about this. The DC committee has had meetings with Campus Living, but that hasn’t been that successful. They have been largely ignored. Members of DC have directly contacted Campus Living. They replied, but nothing was done. We have written comments on their comment board. (At one point, they ran out of comment cards so napkins were used instead.) They have been ignored. We recently had a survey by Campus Living on our opinions of the Dining Hall. The survey was full of useless questions about lunch only and the questionnaires had no space for other comments.

Where does DC go from here? If Campus Living has a clear communication channel between the members of the hall and themselves, that would be a start. Many members of DC have complaints and suggestions on the Dining Hall. This is quite obvious in that the committee put up a comment board of their own to gather suggestions on how to improve hall life as a whole. The majority of suggestions made were about the Dining Hall whilst Campus Living’s board remained empty.

The detrimental effect that the Dining Hall is having on the Freshers is causing the majority to seek accommodation elsewhere next year – most are unwilling to return to DC. This has made the committee changeover a real struggle. There are some excellent Freshers in DC who have some great ideas and could make a real improvement to hall life, but because of the quality of the Dining Hall, they just don’t want to return next year.

We hope to see an improvement in the near future, if anyone has any thoughts on this, tweet us @LabelOnline

Craig Searle

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1 Comment

  1. Paddy Parker on

    IMAGO are taking the piss here really. At the end of the day DC students are the customer and they are not providing acceptable customer service. Imago are the suppliers here, they should not have the power to dictate what happens with halls. The uni is at fault for providing them with a monopoly to be in this position. DC should state the minimum level of customer service they expect and should say that if imago deliver less they need to be looking for different companies to run the service. In my opinon it is not acceptable for them to reduce the service they offer year by year whilst still demanding more and more for rent each year.

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