After One Semester, Mixed Reviews for Thompson Hospitality

by Andrew Stoddard ’14

Thompson Hospitality has now been a part of the Hampden Sydney community for a whole semester.

“We are very proud and excited to be the food service provider for H-SC. The community has been very receptive and welcoming. Hampden Sydney is a very dynamic campus, full of energy. It has been a pleasure being a part of this,” said Food Service Director Darryl Rudge.

“We feel like there have been a number of accomplishments with many more opportunities ahead. There will continue to be a focus on improvement and efficiencies all with an interest in better serving the community,” continued Mr. Rudge.

Many students are pleased with the transition thus far as well. “I think the dining service has done a fairly good job. Hopefully they continue to better themselves as to meal selections and such, but for a first-year contract I cannot complain,” said sophomore John Wirges.

One of the most notable improvements has been the overall attitude of the staff.  “The staff acts so polite. Mrs. Brooks is one of my favorite people. The staff and managing staff always act nice, and it is nice to see them working. Seeing the Executive Chef out there in the morning cooking omelets is nice,” said Wirges.

However not all students are satisfied with the new dining service.

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a typical meal in Panhil Commons

 

“I am less than satisfied.  The food generally does not taste good, or necessarily even have the texture or consistency that the food should have.  Generally the food is poorly cooked and prepared in such a manner that it doesn’t look appetizing.  Also, there is a serious lack of variety.  A student should not walk in and say, ‘I wonder what of four possible lunches are being served today,” said a student who wished to remain anonymous.

“Taste and variety are really the biggest problems.  The food needs to be cooked in a better manner, or new food needs to be bought and THC needs to try something new.  The burrito line every day does not seem appealing, the fries and some sub-par entrée in the ‘fast-food’ line gets old (especially when the fries aren’t good), and the other stations are usually rotating between the same couple meals that are served every week, if not multiple times a week,” continued the anonymous student.

Quality was one of the main complaints with Aramark, so when Thompson promised to improve in that area almost every student on campus rejoiced. However, some students did not see much change in the overall quality of the meals served over the past semester.

“Several improvements I can think of would be using higher quality ingredients in their meals and preparing a wide variety of meals not the same thing week to week. Also, most meals are either under or over cooked. Finally, I do not think that ice cream Sundays or French fries should be considered as a meal,” said junior Will Funk.

“The menus are always evolving. We have added a number of items to the TI menu based solely on student input. Our chefs look for feedback on food quality and variety and incorporate suggestions on our cycle menus,” said Mr. Rudge in response to several of these claims.

Some students also feel that their input and suggestions are going unnoticed or simply ignored.

“I do not believe they are listening to comments. Every comment gets a roundabout answer defending what they are doing, and nothing is changed,” said Wirges.

“I just want the granola to be added back to the cereal bar and I know I’m not alone, but they have yet to respond to any comments about it,” said sophomore Brett Roberts.

Mr. Rudge stated “We do listen to suggestions; there is a suggestion box in the dining hall. We also receive suggestions through the H-SC Dining website, Facebook and Twitter.”

On the whole most students seem to be happy with Thompson Hospitality after the first semester.  Some students still would like to see improvements made to various aspects of the dining experience, but the dining service will hopefully work out any of the kinks as time goes on and they get more experience here at Hampden Sydney.

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