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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Thought for food: Campion holds feedback groups

Campion Dining Hall is receiving feedback from bi-monthly focus groups. PHOTOS: KELLY SHANNON ’24/THE HAWK

Every two weeks, SJU Dining Services offers students a chance to share their opinions about how food service around campus can be improved. 

Nicholas Ventrola, resident district manager for Aramark Dining Services, began instituting the bi-monthly focus groups, which are held in the Campion Student Center conference room, when he started his position at St. Joe’s in May 2021. About 10 to 25 students attend each meeting, Ventrola wrote in response to written questions from The Hawk.

“Student engagement and feedback is integral to successful programs,” Ventrola said. “We have always conducted these in our higher education accounts. The responses we get allow us to make real-time improvements to our program and ultimately provide more value to our dining plan holders.”

While Dining Services cannot implement every student suggestion, all requests are considered, Ventrola said.

“It really comes down to a case-by-case analysis, and we evaluate whether we can make the accommodation or not,” Ventrola said. “If we cannot, I try to provide a reason. We always explain and educate. This way the student, while not necessarily happy with the decision, is provided the logical reason for the outcome.”

Milton O’Brien ’25, member of the University Student Senate (USS), attended a focus group last semester along with about 20 other students and suggested that students be able to use meal exchanges at restaurants outside of Campion Food Court. 

Despite his idea not being implemented, O’Brien still recommended that other students attend these meetings. 

“I think that it’s good for the students to get involved and to give feedback,” O’Brien said. 

One of the biggest changes that came from a student suggestion is the daily rotation of the menu at Campion Dining Hall’s “True Station,” which serves a variety of gluten-free foods. Ventrola said that change had to be made during winter break because it was a “substantial update.”

Other suggested changes can be implemented right away, Ventrola said. 

“There are always small but easy changes being made, very simple ones like adding more bread and bagel options during breakfast,” Ventrola said. “This was mentioned in a meeting and accommodated immediately.”

Colin Biddle ’25, member of USS, attended two feedback sessions last fall after Ventrola gave a presentation at a senate meeting. At one of the sessions, Ventrola talked to students about SJU Dining Service’s new to-go boxes. Biddle said he appreciates that students are offered incentives for attending. 

“He always brings the best food that Campion has,” Biddle said. “One day he had some good tortillas. The desserts are always good. Then there’s always the free drink [coupon for] Starbucks. So that’s an easy $5 that you’re saving.”

Ventrola said he does not know when the next focus group meeting will be but he anticipates the meetings resuming after spring break.

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Vincent Kornacki
Vincent Kornacki, News Editor
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