Purdue News

February 21, 2006

Purdue dining services named national 'best in show'

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A national food industry magazine has honored Purdue University Residences' complete revamping of its dining services system as one of the best in the nation.

Boiler Crossing
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Purdue was named Best in Show in Food Management magazine's 2006 Best Concept awards. The award specifically recognizes the university's current updating of residence hall dining facilities from 19 small, traditional dining halls and retail operations to 10 modernized dining courts, restaurants and convenience stores.

"This award recognizes Purdue's efforts to revitalize dining for its students and staff," said Sarah C. Johnson, director of dining services. "The new facilities give students what they are looking for: choice. That includes choices of locations, styles, cuisines and operating hours. The changes make Purdue's dining services less like traditional campus food and more like the restaurants our students have grown up with."

The award will be announced in the March issue of Food Management and highlighted at the 2006 Food Management Ideas Conference, to take place May 17-19 in Chicago immediately preceding the National Restaurant Show.

The university is in the midst of a $48 million total revitalization of its residence hall dining system. The plan includes three recently opened renovated and expanded dining courts in Hillenbrand, Windsor and Earhart halls, and the construction of Ford Dining Court, University Residences' first freestanding dining facility. A fifth dining court, adjacent to Wiley Hall, is scheduled to be completed in 2008.

Windsor Dining Court
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The dining courts changed the face of Purdue University dining, Johnson said. Menus in the new facilities em- phasize choice, nutrition and con- venience, with an expansion of international cuisine, vegetarian options and restaurant-style quality.

"Today's students are used to having the kinds of food they want when they want it," Johnson said. "This generation has grown up eating out more than any generation before them, and they expect to be able to continue eating the same restaurant-style food. Our menus have expanded to include things like brick-oven pizzas; made-to-order stir-fries; and a variety of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and African foods."

Food Management's award is not the only praise for Purdue's new dining efforts — it's popular with students are as well. Purdue recently participated in the National Association of College and University Food Service's student satisfaction survey, which took opinions of more than 2,000 Purdue students on the state of dining at the university. Ernest F. Poland, director of University Residences, said students rated Purdue dining services highly on areas including cleanliness, food quality, appearance and healthfulness.

"The results from the survey continue to support the changes that we have made," Poland said. "These changes were made with a tremendous amount of input from students, and we will continue to collect data and use it to make sure we are offering students the type of dining experiences they are looking for. "

Food Management magazine's Best Concepts Awards recognize excellence and innovation in onsite, noncommercial dining services around the country. Categories include best menu, renovations, special events and service concepts, and awards go to multiple winners in each category. The Best in Show award honors only one winner per year and recognizes excellence across each of the categories.

"Like all of University Residences, dining services is a completely self-supporting unit of the university that does not benefit from tuition funds or state money," Poland said. "We have been able to update all of our dining facilities to meet our students' needs with only user fees, bonds and savings that have come from the new, more efficient dining services."

The revamping also includes two quick-service restaurants — Harrison Hall's Harrison Grillé and Hillenbrand Hall's Griffin Express — and convenience stores in Meredith and Tarkington halls. A third restaurant, the Cary Knight Spot Grill, will reopen in August after extensive renovations. In addition, University Residences Central Production Kitchen provides meals and other food items for Purdue's take-out and On the Go locations, which allow students to take their meals to go and eat them in their rooms or elsewhere on campus. The Central Production Kitchen also provides catering for special events in University Residences.

When the dining plan is complete, at least one of the facilities will be open for students from 6:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. weekdays and 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. on the weekends, allowing students to choose meals that fit their schedules, Poland said.

Writer: Matt Holsapple, (765) 494-2073, mholsapple@purdue.edu

Sources: Ernest F. Poland, (765) 494-1000, efpoland@purdue.edu

Sarah C. Johnson, (765) 494-1000, scj@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


Boiler Crossing assistant manager Barb Bechham and student supervisor Kyle Eickhorst, a senior in the Krannert School of Management from Bloomington, Ill., take inventory and stock shelves at the convenience store in Tarkington Hall. The Boiler Crossing is one of two stores in Purdue residence halls that allow students to purchase food, drinks and other supplies. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photo is available at https://www.purdue.edu/uns/images/+2006/boilercrossing.jpg

Bob Barnes, a worker with Indianapolis-based contractor Stafford-Smith, puts finishing touches on the salad bar area at the Windsor Dining Court. The facility is the fourth and most recent of five new dining courts that are changing the face of student dining at Purdue. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication quality photo is available at https://www.purdue.edu/uns/images/+2005/windsor-dining.jpg


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