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IPFW to Bring More Food Options to Campus

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Written by: Mikaela ConleyMay 28, 2015

The talk of bringing different food options to campus is becoming a reality.

IPFW has signed an initial five year contract with Aramark food services, starting July 1.

Cyndy Elick, director of purchasing and support services at IPFW, said, “we have had a good response from the university community about this decision…everyone is ready for something different.”

The validity of that statement stems from the results of a 2013 survey that asked students, faculty and staff about their opinion of the various food services offered on campus at the time and the results were straightforward, shouting students’ dissatisfaction with the “unhealthy” and “overpriced” food that allowed almost no options for individuals with food allergies or conditions such as Celiac Disease.

An anonymous survey response said, “It all boils down to variety. I think the vendors we have are great, but there’s only so much Subway you can eat after a while.”

Another comment said, “I just think paying almost ten dollars for a sandwich and a drink is a little much for a college campus. I think we need to re-think some things.”

In fact, almost everyone agree that things needed re-thought and the harsh majority of those surveyed agreed, demading both “delicious AND nutritious food.”

217 out of the 811 participants that answered the question said they were very dissatisfied with the actual selection of food offered and 318 said they were dissatisfied.

That is why IPSGA took action, and passed a proposal, “encouraging the change from Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Subway to a modern cafeteria style, food court.”

Elick started the request for proposal process in March 2014, looking at multiple vendors that cater in schools.

“Aramark gave us the best deal,” she said. “And we went to some of their Indy sites and it was actually good food.”

Aramark also caters Sinclair Community College, Marian University and at the War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, according to Elick.

“So they are not new to the business or this area. We are definitely not the first college to have them,” Elick said.

The university is also hoping to come up with a meal plan idea with Aramark, where students can simply put money on a card and use it directly at the food locations. However, a meal plan card will not be mandatory to buy from the locations because of the vast amount of outside visitors that come to campus.

But, what exactly is the plan?

Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Subway were closed the week of May 4 in order for the construction of more cafeteria style dining options to be done by the start of the fall semester.

“They would have preferred to stay but they understood that it was contractional. They knew the possibility that change would be desired. But, they were sad to leave,” Elick said about Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Subway.

All employees of those restaurants were offered jobs at other locations in the area.

However, Aramark will be hiring employees via JobZone, IPFW’s job search website.

In August, Walb Coffee Shop will open in the former yoyos location in Walb Student Union operating from 8 a.m. -7 p.m. Monday- Thursday and 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Fridays, serving Starbuck’s coffee, beverages, breakfast sandwiches and pastries.

Walb Bistro will operate from the former locations of Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. They will be offering a rotating/guest restaurant option,  pizza express, grill express (burgers, wraps and vegetarian options), salad bar and soup, express items (salads, fruit cups, etc.) and fountain beverages, operating Monday- Thursday 10 a.m. -7 p.m., and Fridays 10 a.m. -2 p.m.

The rotating restaurant idea would feature favorite restaurants invited as guest chefs to serve their most popular items. These could include Chik- fil- a, Chipotle, etc.

Kettler Chop’d & Top’d will open in Kettler Hall in the former location of Subway, offering breakfast and lunch/dinner sandwiches, flatbreads, bowls, signature salads and express items (grab n go salads, sandwiches, etc.) Their hours will be Monday-Thursday 7a.m. – 8 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. -3 p.m.

Aramark will have extended hours in the Walb Student Union locations, but that is subject to change if they are not taken advantage of.

“This all came about because of the desire of students for change,” Elick said, explaining the reasons behind her search for a “food service partner who could provide greater flexibility and more choices in the food being served on campus.”

According to Elick, that is why a committee will be established, and made up of students, faculty and staff, in order to provide feedback about the services and discuss topics such as special events, programs, meal plans and discounts.