The UIS Community

A new kind of conversation addressing issues that UIS students and staff care about.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Food at UIS

There has been quite a discussion started today about the UIS food. I want to offer people an alternative format -- this blog, which is the perfect place for such a discussion. Click on the "Post a Comment" link at the bottom of the "comments" section below this post to add your two cents.

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31 Comments:

At March 13, 2009 at 1:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought that the lunch room "strike" that was mentioned on the emails was a good idea for getting some attention to the issue.

 
At March 13, 2009 at 1:46 PM , Anonymous Karen Kirkendall said...

Our mapworks system has generated alot of negative comments about UIS food service from our honors students. As with the staff they are asking for healthier food and more variety. Students with special dietary needs are often unable to eat on campus and of course, those in the residence hall have no means for preparing food. I have forwarded the discussion to our DL and asked students to contribute to the discussion or send to me so that I can collect and submit to this blog. KK

 
At March 13, 2009 at 1:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too would like to complain about the food that has been present at the Cooks Nook. Ever since we acquired the new staff and the new menu, I have rarely been able to make myself get food from the Cooks Nook. All of the old favorites that everyone used to love are rarely ever served anymore, and it truly does seem that everything there is either covered in cheese or some weird sauce/topping. I also miss the Heart Healthy meals. Personally, I have not eaten at the Cooks Nook once this entire semester. I’m glad that the grill menu choices haven’t changed, because I would not otherwise be purchasing any food from this campus that didn’t come from a vending machine.

Thanks for allowing me a place to voice my opinions.

 
At March 13, 2009 at 1:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don’t like how much fat is now in almost everything that they serve at the Cooks Nook. Since I’m a vegetarian, there are a few things that I would still eat, such as fish and vegetables, if they were not covered in butter, nearly all the time. And, I believe there was always supposed to be a vegetarian option, but pasta cannot count every day. I would like to see more options for people that don’t only eat meat based foods. Also, food is not clearly labeled, and those of us with allergies are the ones that have to suffer. Also, it would be nice to have more variety in the soups that are available.

 
At March 13, 2009 at 1:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a new transfer student to UIS, but I used to visit and eat at the cafeteria back when they still had the old menus. The food was very good, but when I started at this school, the menu and staff had changed. I no longer eat at the cooks nook. In my opinion, the food is inedible, and thus all my food is ordered from the Grill. I wish that the menu would go back to what it used to be.

 
At March 13, 2009 at 1:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other day I complained to my boss about bad working conditions for my graduate assistants, calling their work area a "hellhole." He promptly pulled out a photo taken in a poverty-stricken area of Jamaica and said, "This is a hellhole."

 
At March 13, 2009 at 2:02 PM , Anonymous Karen Kirkendall said...

A comment from MAPwks from a honors student:

"I'm also having a very difficult time keeping vegetarian here. I've had a few
accidents, (ie. the fries are fried in the same oil as the chicken, both the green
beans and Alfredo sauce are both made with chicken stock) It's a really disgusting
and painful feeling for an ethics-based vegetarian to eat meat. "

 
At March 13, 2009 at 2:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like that most of the ooptions are full of fat or sugar and contain low nutritional value. Also, there is very few options for non-meat eaters. I don't like how even when I try to get someting healthy it is coverd in fatty, creamy sauses. Then there aren't many options for yogurt, mainly the fruit on the bottom, which is full of sugar and low in fiber. And the only options for soy milk are the vanilla sou puches, whic are also very high in sugar with at least 18 grams.
My main concern is that they don't provide the nutritional information for any of the dishes even tough I have asked for is several times. I was told that it would be available in two weeks because of a change in chef. This was two weeks ago and I still don'tt ave the nurtitional informations such as sugar, fat, calories, carbs, fiber, ect.

Finally, there isn't anywhere else were I can get a hot tea or a hot soup and this is because there aren't any hot water machines eccept for the PAC, and this has very limitting hours, especually for those of us who spend our weekend in the library working on papers and research.

 
At March 13, 2009 at 2:28 PM , Anonymous Brian Phillips said...

Greetings,

I customarily hit the "Delete" whenever something like this infiltrates my mailbox, and at UIS, it is ANNOYINGLY FREQUENT; however, I just couldn't let this one go by, even though I regret my complicity in responding.

Ms. Bell, you appeal for sympathy, but as far as I'm concerned, you're on your own. As I see it, you, me, and everyone else, have several options. Some of which are;

1) Choose to consume meals from the available options that Food Service provides.
- If agreeable, enjoy.
- If not, discontinue option 1 and evaluate other options.

2) Choose to consume meals from elsewhere
- either by leaving campus for lunch, or
- by bringing lunch to campus.

3) Choose to do without.

The point is that we have options. We need only choose among them, and then take action on our choice. You state that, "For the last few months . . . [there has been a] lack of some of my previous favorites . . . " Perhaps it's time to consider a different choice. It's a simple as that.

 
At March 13, 2009 at 3:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like food covered in cheese sauces and other sauces. MMMMMMMMMM!

 
At March 13, 2009 at 3:11 PM , Anonymous Karen Kirkendall said...

Additional Comments from Mapwks (First year Honors students, Fall 08):

"The food. I have food allergies so it's hard for me to find things to eat sometimes."

"not really any healthy foods"

"The price and quality of the food..."

"Get better food"

"Cook some healthy food"

 
At March 13, 2009 at 3:31 PM , Anonymous Karen Kirkendall said...

Additional comments from students in the Honors program.

" I really don't like not being able to walk into my kitchen and make my own food. I hate the cafeteria."

"Not being able to eat a lot. I have many food allergies and the campus food choices make it very
difficult for me to eat in the PAC."

"Be more concerned and accomodating to people with food allergies! It's a HUGE
issue--contaminated food/not being able to eat can cause serious health issues! :( "

"The food...the selection here isnt very good. Better food selection."

"eating the same food over again"

"Improve the health of the campus, food, students. Increase the schools hospitability towards its
students. Give the students kitchens, a variety of healthy food choices. Do away with Corn
Syrup. Stop frying all the food. Stop using Styrofoam... "

 
At March 13, 2009 at 3:42 PM , Anonymous Michael Waldo said...

I also have been very disappointed with the selection of main courses at the Cook's Nook. For the most part,there are only two main meals for lunch and then two new meals for dinner. I have found that many times there will be two "interesting" dishes served at the same time. I have no problem will having these gourmet options, however it is frustrating when you can't have a more normal option as well. Often when they do choose to have a normal dish, they will make both of the two dish offerings a "heart-healthy" entree. It's disheartening when somedays you don't want either entree and others you want them both. I would like to see there always be a normal meal (Spaghetti, Meatloaf, Fried Chicken, Lasagna, or Teriyaki Chicken) along with one gourmet dish (Shrimp flatbread, chicken rosa, Cranberry Chicken, etc). This way, students who choose to try the gourmet dishes can have the opportunity, and students who'd rather stick with a traditional favorite also have that option.

Another suggestion I have is to have Showtime open during the evening dinner hours along with its current lunchtime hours. Showtime seems to always have a line, and students seem to enjoy it. The dishes usually combine a rice or noodle, a type of meat, and then various vegetables. This is a healthy alternative to the fried, greasy food found at the Grill and sometimes the Cook's Nook.

On a different note, I recently heard a rumor that the fryers at Founders have not had the oil changed since they opened 8 weeks ago. I do not know if this is true. I sure hope not.

The last thing I would like to touch on is perhaps opening options for students to use their meal plan at certain restaurants off-campus. Many other universities provide their students the opportunity to use their meal plans at nearby restaurants. I'm not sure how the monetary amounts are broken down, but I know many students would be in favor of perhaps opening a connection between outside food vendors (i.e. Lakepointe Grille, Centrum Cafe, Taco Bell, etc)

 
At March 13, 2009 at 3:59 PM , Anonymous Michael Waldo said...

I would like to respond to Brian Phillips blog.

While his options may apply to faculty and staff, there are still a couple hundred students living in the dorms with absolutely no other food source other than the PAC. All students living in the dorms are required to purchase meal plans, so while going off campus to eat is an alternative, it's not really feasible since we have $1000 on our meal plans at school that is non-refundable. Also, many on-campus residents do not have a car and they have no way of getting off campus without bumming a ride. As for your last option, it really isn't an option for students.

I was a bit negative in my last post. I want to point out some good things about food service as well.

1) Fantastic salad bar- In my opinion it's better than a lot of restaurant's salad bars.

2) The Deli is great and they offer a variety of different types of sandwiches with several breads choices.

3) The Grill has excellent breakfast option for students

 
At March 13, 2009 at 4:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no qualms with the quality of the food served at this school. On the contrary, I appreciate the Food Emporium’s chef’s attention to detail and willingness to experiment and broaden the palates of the customers.

I do, however, find the service at the Founder's cafe to be atrocious. There have been many instances where students were noticed and acknowledged by café workers and were then blatantly disregarded. I understand that they are student-workers, but there must still be a certain level of professionalism to be maintained towards the customers (who may also be friends and/or classmates).

A quick meal at the Founder’s cafe often turns into 15-20 minutes of waiting for your order to be taken even though you may be the only person in the café, followed by 15 minutes of the servers fumbling around the servery for the ingredients, and the experience to be topped by the presentation of a mangled and haphazardly constructed wrap or sandwich.

 
At March 13, 2009 at 7:30 PM , Anonymous Candace said...

In response to Michael, the rumor that the fryer oil has not been changed since we opened FRH grill is definitely a rumor. We filter the oil every night and completely change the oil every Friday morning. As for the issue for vegetarians and the fryer, it’s an issue that needs addressed, but there is not anything I can do about it. We only have 2 fryers, and when we filter them at night, the oil from both fryer mix together. There is no way around that. However, we do have a section of the grill set aside specifically for vegetarians. No meat gets cooked on that side, so you can request your food be cooked on that section when you order your food. If you have any other suggestions, just let me know and I’ll see what I can do about it.

 
At March 13, 2009 at 9:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have also been considering sending my comments on the food. I would also prefer the veggies to be "bare" of sauces and also bare of the butter that used to be all over them. Give me a few more peas instead. I do enjoy international food but I, too, have found myself frequenting the Cooks Nook less often. How about plain old carved meat, such as turkey, beef, etc (I do like the pork offerings)?

 
At March 13, 2009 at 10:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this is indeed being read by Candace and others in Food Service, I'd like to register another comment regarding vegetarian/vegan options.

I understand that UIS is a relatively small campus, but it is growing, and it is increasingly populated by students, more of whom are vegetarian/vegan than at any point in previous generations.

I'd like to point out that most campuses offer more vegetarian/vegan options than UIS does, and I am NOT talking about HUGE schools in hip urban centers. UIUC, for example, which is admittedly much bigger than UIS, is not located in a city that is much hipper or hopping than Springfield is; yet UIUC has a vegan restaurant called Red Herring and tons of vegetarian/vegan options across the campus. When we open new food service locations, and rethink food offerings, I would appreciate it if this was kept in mind. We need to move beyond the obligatory veggie burger.

Some of you may think that the vegetarian/vegan issue is a marginal one, but please consider this: Most of the issues being raised here are being raised by people who have no principled objection to eating most of the food items on the menus, but they're requesting better quality and less sauces, etc. I am in solidarity with you, but imagine how much MORE limiting it is for the ever-growing number of us who don't eat animal products.

 
At March 13, 2009 at 10:29 PM , Anonymous Michael Waldo said...

Candace,

Thank you for clarifying that. I'll make sure to correct that rumor when I hear it again.

 
At March 13, 2009 at 10:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No chicken base in either the green beans or the alfredo sauce. No corn syrup is used anywhere on the menu.

 
At March 13, 2009 at 10:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I do not know who you are, but I find it interesting that you imply you often are acknowledged yet still forced to wait up to 20 minutes to place your order when you are the only one there, yet you never say anything to the supervisor, which is present 5 of the 7 days a week. Also, I do not know if you have ever worked fast food, or any job for that matter, but especially in fast food, there is more to the job than just the customers. Food needs to be prepped, cleaning needs to be done, and stocking needs to be finished. If it is not, then you would not get ANY food! Some prep or stocking cannot be left half-way finished because then it could get contaminated, could contaminate something else, or could get in the way and pose a safety hazard for the workers and/or customers. Food Service at UIS has never, to my knowledge, advertised itself as fast food. If you want a meal in 2 minutes, go to McDonald's, Taco Bell, or some similar restaurant. Food at UIS, both in the PAC and in Founders, is prepared to order, nothing is premade unless it is a special, such as Cook's Nook or the pre-made salads. If you want food that sits in a warmer, go to one of the previously mentioned restaurants! If it takes 20 minutes for a meal at Founders, then be prepared to wait or get a premade salad or yogurt or the like. Some items, such as chicken tenders, take up to 8 minutes to prepare, and that is assuming there is nothing in already. I eat there several times a week, and have never waited for more than a few minutes to give my order.

Also, please remember who you are talking about. Many, if not all, the workers, as you said, are student workers. Most of them are using work study for this position because Food Service is one of the few departments on campus that have the funds to hire such employees. They work for minimum wage, are only allowed up to 25 hours a week, or 3 nights at the most, and many likely do not have prior experience or training. With such a turnover this year in Founders (and if you haven't noticed then you need to open your eyes!) there leaves little time to get the skill of the student workers up to par as there is in PAC. Also, these are the people making your food, regardless of how long it takes. If they were not there, you would not eat after PAC closes at 8 o'clock, and if you are a normal college student, you are likely not in bed at 10 like many high schoolers. Founders is open until midnight for those of us that do not eat supper at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, so please remember that before you complain about them.

I would also like to remind everybody, nobody forces you to eat at Founders! If you do not like their food or service, you are more than welcome to go to the PAC during the day or buying Ramen and Easy Mac and making it in the microwave. People do the best they can in the position they are put in, Founders Grille is no exception.
Before you making presumptuous complaints, please consider what you are complaining about. Food Service does not have to offer you a place to eat after 8 pm.

 
At March 14, 2009 at 11:25 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back around 1990, the Subway sandwich chain did have one of their shops on campus; it was located in building D (cannot think of the current name). While they were open from 8 AM through 7 PM, they lost money during the morning hours (few if any customers), during the evening hours (the evening crowd did not have time for a leisurely meal) and they only profitable during the noon hours. It closed down after a year or two of operation. Could another outside vendor be lured onto campus to provide an alternative to Food Services? signed, an old alumnus

 
At March 15, 2009 at 5:44 PM , Anonymous Karen Kirkendall said...

Another student comment --

"I would like to see food service offer one "meat n' potatoes" meal (i.e., roast beef or fried chicken with traditional sides) or "ethnic" meal (i.e., tacos, stir-fry, etc.) and one "gourmet" option (i.e., the fancy fish entrees) every day. I would also like to see Showtime open during supper. I am rarely disappointed with what they have to offer."

 
At March 16, 2009 at 1:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to Brian Phillips blog:

I think you are a little lost and out of touch, somehow. Other than fast food, there simply is not enough time to leave campus and "consume meals from elsewhere" if you are faculty. Also, did you forget the fact that there are actually students at this University?

Why so harsh on someone simply voicing their opinion? As a parent of a UIS student, all I can hope is that you are not a faculty member with an attitude such as yours.

 
At March 16, 2009 at 4:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, I don't like how they have changed the menu at Cook's Nook. They have lost some of my more favorite meals from last semester and even last year. Plus, almost eveything now it layered in some kind of sauce, or cheese, or something else making unappetizing.

Second, they have lost some of my more favorite desserts and the ones that they do have are covered in some kind of sauce that makes it untasteful. They seem more concerned with decoration than they do taste.

Third, what happened to the buying of bulk choice. I never go home except for break but there is no way to eat $1000 worth of food in a semster. I know that the money goes to the PAC if I don't use it but I can't afford to lose all that money. I PAID IT, I SHOULD GET TO USE IT.

That's my current opinion on the topic.

 
At March 24, 2009 at 3:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be nice to have a subway back on campus again. Times have changed and especially in this day with the $5 footlong, i could see a Subway making a lot of money off this campus. Back when there was one on campus, there wasn't the large on-campus population that we have now. A subway would be a great addition to our campus. If Lincon Land can support one, I KNOW we can!

 
At March 29, 2009 at 10:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

After a week of reading The State Journal Register and watching the TV news I am wondering why we have'nt heard anything from the university concerning the resignations of the coaches?

 
At April 12, 2009 at 2:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish the UIS cafeteria had vegan options. I had to turn down being a cap scholars honors student because I couldn't live on campus, I would starve if the cafeteria was the only available food. It's really upsetting how UIS claims to celebrate diversity, but the only diversity in the caf. is chicken or cow.

 
At July 2, 2009 at 3:50 PM , Anonymous Pita0212 said...

First, I would like to say that everyone has a right to complain. However, if you are going to complain and I sincerely hope you have taken the time to express your concern to the appropriate restaurant management personnel to give them a chance to explain, defend, or correct the situation. The world is full of complaining people. The world could use some people who care enough to help correct problems that ultimately benefit others instead of just themselves.

 
At September 4, 2009 at 3:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally used to work at the Cafeteria in the PAC. DISGUSTING!!!! I had a sneak preview behind everything they did. People were so lazy, never changed their gloves like they were supposed to after cleaning and cooking, and the attitude of the workers who were not students were disappointing. I was the only student worker at the time and i saw both sides of it. I agree with everyone Else's comments. Something needs to be done now or else someone will get sick and sue. When that day happens that will be the end of UIS's "good" reputation. The little of it that the school as a whole developed. I am very upset with the way this school operates that I'm transferring out.

 
At September 24, 2009 at 1:11 AM , Anonymous How To Play Guitar said...

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