National ranking puts SLU low on food chain

Overcrowded cafeterias. High prices. Lack of variety.

These comments are likely to be heard on college campuses across the nation.

But what happens when a school is actually recognized for having poor food quality?

This year, Saint Louis University was ranked 312 out of 331 schools by the Princeton Review in its “Best 331 Colleges 2002.” Nearby Washington University placed second in the rankings and received fourth place last year.

The rankings were determined based on student surveys and took food committee meetings, policies and testing of different foods into consideration.

SLU’s food service provider, Sodexho-Marriott, says its goal is to exceed the expectations of the college student “by providing the innovative menus, comprehensive facilities-management services and friendly faces that improve the quality of their everyday life,” according to its Web site.

The site also goes on to say that Sodexho works with schools to create “unique, cost-effective programs.”

Sophomore Gabe Miller, however, doesn’t exactly agree with this statement. “I think that SLU should offer students a better variety of food options,” Miller said. “No matter where I go on campus, it always seems like I am eating the same thing. The quality of the food could also be improved.”

In terms of uniqueness or variety, SLU offers eight dining facilities on the Frost Campus, including the three residence hall cafeterias located at DeMattias; Griesidieck and Reinert, the Marketplace, the Billiken Club, Ameren Caf?, Fusz Food Court and Starbucks. The Health Sciences Center has two options for dining-the Allied Health Food Court or a Subway Express.

Wash. U.’s food service provider, Bon Appetit, however, provides its students with more than 13 different options, and has a mission to “provide healthy, nutritious options while focusing on customer services and satisfaction,” according to the university’s Web site.

Some facilities include: Ursa’s Caf?, which serves smoothies, milkshakes, marble slab ice cream and wraps; Caf? Olin, which provides specials such as paninis and cassoulets; and Hilltop, which is home to a Starbucks Coffee Station and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

The university also offers students a wide range of different cuisines, such as sushi, Mexican, Chinese and Pacific Rim dinners, as well as kosher meals.

Greg Teator, general manager of Dining Services at Wash. U., said that Bon Appetit appreciates the ranking it received, but there are many reasons the high rank.

“We are a food-driven, culinary company. Our goal is to provide the freshest possible product at the point of service,” Teator said.

This means no heat-and-serve items, and much of the food is prepared for the students as they order it, he said. He also stressed that each facility has its own uniqueness, serving items that would not normally be found on a college campus, such as Asian, Italian and wraps.

Teator said that their ranking could be due to the interaction that they have with students on a daily basis. Food and student satisfaction are high priorities. Next fall, Wash. U. hopes to have the nutritional content of their items on the school’s Web site for student reference.

“The menu is driven by what you are paying for,” he said. According to Teator, Wash. U. is ranked 17 out of 25 schools in terms of pricing. “There’s many ways of cutting the pie,” Teator said.