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Creating a sense of belonging at OHIO’s culinary locations

Makya Trussell
September 24, 2019

Ohio University Culinary Services strives to make their dining locations a place where students are comfortable and feel like they belong. Culinary Services held fall Culinary Tours of their dining courts, Latitude 39 Restaurant, campus cafes and campus markets to show the Bobcat community their dining options and increase their sense of belonging.

With the eighteen options to choose from at Ohio University, there is sure to be one option to satisfy. The tours showed all of the options available and helped guide students in choosing the best food -options for them.

Ellie Coldiron, a first-year English: HTC major, attended the very first tour of the fall semester because she, “hadn’t explored campus’ resources as much as she had wanted to.” As a new Bobcat, Coldiron had found herself overwhelmed during her first few days on campus. She believes that, “food is imporant to a student’s wellbeing because it becomes a social aspect,” and that the tour was, “a great opportunity to get to know campus.” 

Culinary staff members: Kent Scott, Rich Neumann, Patti Barnes, Chuck Wagers, Valerie Denney, Mary Jones and Autumn Ryder coordinated and led the tours to the many campus cafes, dining courts, Latitude 29 Restaurant and campus markets located on campus. Each staff member was more than knowledgeable in providing information regarding meal plans, Bobcat Cash and Flex Points. Additionally, questions were encouraged by the tour leaders by incorporating prizes such as t-shirts, a Culinary Services laptop case and Culinary Services’ new Reusable To-Go Containers. Scott believes that, “when people know about things like their meal plans and the options they have, they feel more comfortable in their environment. Then, hopefully, they feel more welcome.”

boyd market
Students tour the Boyd Market.

The tour groups met general managers, chefs, student leaders/employees and other culinary staff members while visiting locations. Each venue offered the tour members a special food or drink and, -sometimes both! The Front Room Coffeehouse gave out their most popular drink, a Mocha Frappuccino, while Smooth Moves at Boyd Market- chose their blueberry-peach smoothie.

Many Culinary Services’ locations have introduced new food concepts to their operations this year. West 82’s newest addition, Let’s Get Ramen, opened for operation at the beginning of the 2019 Spring semester. The District on West Green, Nelson Court and Shively Court’s Reusable To-Go Container program started this semester to promote our sustainability initiative as well. Further back, The District on West Green underwent a renovation in 2015 that included extensive gluten-free and other dietary specific options for students, faculty and staff. Starting this year, The District on West Green will have an entirely nut-free menu. Tour participants were able to learn more about each new initiative first-hand.

The District on West Green
Students leave the District on West Green on the way to their next stop on the Culinary Tour.

The Culinary Tours stopped at the three campus markets: Jefferson Marketplace, Boyd Market and Nelson Market. Spending time at each location gave tour attendees insights on how Culinary Services works to increase customer satisfaction and accessibility. Each Campus Market offers a variety of products for the wants and needs of the community and has prices comparable to nearby grocery stores. This includes incorporating local foods and products into the Campus Markets through a collaboration of Uniquely Ohio. Local items include the well-loved Silver Bridge Coffee Company, who created a special coffee blend just for Ohio University, produce from the OHIO Student Farm and Nature’s Magic cleaning supplies.

The goal of the Culinary Tours was to show students that although there are many on-campus dining options available, everyone should feel like they belong at every location. Culinary Services wanted attendees to leave with a sense of confidence about where, when and how they can find their next dining experience. Kent Scott, tour-leader and associate director of Auxiliaries Operations, hoped students on the tours would, “have a connectivity with the community. We want people to know that Culinary is here for them.”

OU-HCOM SAF CAFÉ
Students learn about the OU-HCOM SAF Café located in the Academic Research Center.