[Tiger Cooler] "I feel like all the suggestions that are made are almost never implemented. What changes can we actually suggest?"
We're happy to have the opportunity to address this question. Suggestions are often difficult to implement at the Tiger Cooler due to a severe lack of SPACE - everything from storage to refrigeration to preparation to service space. The Cooler was designed and built as a limited menu operation for a significantly smaller student population, and has not been updated since 1997. That said, the Cooler staff do a great job of being responsive under such difficult circumstances. New menu items are often rotated in as specials, and we have added new vegan and gluten free items over recent months. The most frequent suggestion last fall - bulk condiment dispensers - has been implemented.
All suggestions are discussed at the weekly Campus Dining management staff meeting. Here's a list of some of the criteria we consider:
- Is the item suggested available through one of our suppliers? If not, it's less likely that we can stock that item.
- Can the item be produced in our facility with the existing equipment? The Cooler doesn't have an oven or a rangetop. There is only one fryer well, and the oil in it must remain vegetarian. This is why chicken strips are not possible, except as a weekend special, fried at the the Marketplace.
- Is there space for all needs of the requested item, or will it need to replace another item on the menu? The answer is almost always the latter - something will have to be deleted to make space for a new item. Mexican/Latin American food items are frequently requested, but quesadillas, burritos, tacos and nachos all require significant production and display space. The Tiger Cooler would have to eliminate pizza or a substantial number of grill menu items to regularly serve Latin items. Instead they are incorporated into the menu as frequently rotated weekend specials.
- Can the item be made with current staffing levels, or would new staff need to be added? If the latter, we cannot add the item - the Cooler's budget for labor is pre-determined, and additional staffing is not budgeted at this time.
We're sorry that you are of the opinion that your suggestions go unnoticed. We assure you that is not the case. We welcome all suggestions. In fact, your suggestions help us gauge how well we are meeting your needs. Campus Dining receives 6-12 suggestions each week. We cannot implement them all, but all are given careful consideration Although we post responses through the online suggestion box for all to read, if you provide your contact information we can provide a more detailed response to any suggestion.
"Hello. I was thinking that the Marketplace or the Cooler or the Green Bean could possibly have an organic juice bar, in which healthy juices that consist of things like kale, celery, apple, parsley, and cucumber etc. This option would be a quick snack for those on- the- go, especially athletes and I think it would be an excellent option for vegetarians or vegans who are still underrepresented on this campus. Additionally it provides a healthy and alternative refreshment to the highly processed and refined sugar smoothies that we serve. I know that other schools have adopted juice or smoothie bars, and places like Whole Foods have them inside their store. I think an organic juice/smoothie bar would be a good investment. I have also spoken to other students about this, who were all enthusiastic about the idea. It is also supportive of the environment and of the organic food movement and would be very appealing to people who are interested in Oxy as well."
This suggestion comes up often, but unfortunately a juice/smoothie bar doesn't meet the criteria for logistics at any of our operations at this time. The Green Bean is not licensed for food preparation beyond it's current menu. The Tiger Cooler doesn't have the necessary space (please see above). The Marketplace would be the most practical space for juice or smoothies, but the system of service is problematic. 14 years ago the Marketplace opened, and the center station had a fresh juice bar. We quickly discontinued it because lots of juice was being produced, but significantly less was paid for - it was being consumed in the servery! Juice/smoothie bars really require counter service - first for specialty orders, and second, so the customer is properly charged for that order. That said, the Tiger Cooler is working on bringing in a line of smoothies that can be supplemented with protein boosters or vitamins.
"BOBA!!! i wish it was possible to get boba on campus..."
Boba presents the same challenges as a juice bar (see above), but it is also a cooked product that requires a stove and production labor. These challenges makes it a highly unlikely menu addition unless planned into a future facility remodel.
"SO happy to see a tax going up on the to-go containers... about time those bad boys are taxed! Thanks, Campus Dining! Sustainability efforts are really appreciated."
Yes, the large, hinged to-go containers now cost $.50 each. Resident Students - if you haven't already picked up your first eco-takeout token, come to the card office. You are automatically enrolled! If you live off campus or are a faculty or staff member, you may enroll by e-mailing the card office. Learn about the eco-takeout program.
"Thanks for having a quinoa mixture as part of the salad bar on Tuesday - I enjoyed it so much that I got salad twice in one day!"
"Everyone knows spinach is the BEST kind of lettuce. Can we please get spinach at the salad bar? Also, on Sunday when there was that nut/quinoa salad bar option... that was so good please bring it back! :D (Also, the spinach specialty salad at the cooler two weeks ago was SO good. And last week's cheddar/bean salad was also delish. Way to step it up with the specialty salads. Thanks!)"
Thanks for the comments about our salads! The quinoa is labor intensive, because we have to cook it, but we'll rotate it into the salad bar when we can. We love spinach too, but it is three times more expensive than the next priciest lettuce (the organic spring mix). For cost reasons we usually limit spinach to the specialty salad station, where we can control the portions.
"I know my friends and I would really appreciate if, in the mornings, you sold small containers (like the ones that hold the hummus) of just plain oats. It's the healthiest carb to put on your yogurt... much healthier than the processed granola or instant oatmeal that is also sold. Thanks!"
We already carry what you are requesting - but in a packet. At the small wooden cereal display next to the beverage refrigerator there is a packet product- Simpli Oats. The product comes in three flavors, raspberry, apricot and plain. The Simpli plain oats are also gluten free :-))
"Hi! In regards the food containers in the Cooler, like the celery and carrot sticks, people rarely use all (or any) of the ranch and peanut butter placed in those containers. I really think the Cooler would be saving resources and reducing wasted food if instead of giving peanut butters to people who don't want them, to instead keep them behind the counter--or even out for people to take--so that only the people who will actually use the condiments get them. Thanks for your consideration."
Hmmmm- We've never heard it mentioned before that the condiments are sometimes not wanted. Veggies and fruit without condiments are available at the Marketplace, and we tend to try to offer different options between the Marketplace and the Cooler. The price of the veggies and fruit in the Cooler display includes the ranch or peanut butter. We know from experience that we can't put condiments out for cutomers to take - the usage goes way up when something is seen as "free".
"... i would love to see kit kats and common candy in the cooler and marketplace"
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"it would be cool if the school sold common candy instead of random ones, im sure they would be much more popular among students"
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"I am interested in why the cooler or the market place does not sell chocolate bars. I know that some vending machines sell some but i cant seem to find kit kat anywhere on campus. I think it would be very popular and great if either the cooler or marketplace was able to sell this."
Both the Marketplace and the Tiger Cooler offer chocolate bars, but they are more premium brands such as Divine and Sunspire. The Cooler used to offer a variety of "common" candies, but the cost of those items from our supplier rose significantly after last summer. Under our current meal plan structure, we would have to charge over $2 - $3 for something like a small Kit-Kat bar. This did not seem reasonable to us given that those same items are available in vending machines and the Bookstore for much less. FYI, one of the advantages of the proposed new meal plan structure is that in the long term we would expect to level out the pricing of pre-packaged goods.
Johnson Student Center, 2nd Floor