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Innovation in Texas State’s Dining System – Chartwells Catering

By Ruby Castaneda 

Texas State’s dining system, Chartwells catering, made changes to meal trade options on campus which resulted in inflation of prices. Based on the voiced opinions of the students, resident district manager, Chin-Hong Chua takes a turn for a change. 

Every year for the past three years marketing director for Chartwells dining system, Steven Granados, has conducted focus groups asking students what exactly they want to see enhanced or removed from either the dining options on campus, guest services, or even the meal plan as a whole. After retrieving data, the conclusion came to healthier options like vegan or vegetarian. The students of Texas State also demanded more flexibility in the variety of selections around the retail locations. 

Granados says the dining system now is very versatile and easy to pick and choose from the variety of options offered if you dine in on campus. 

“If I’m vegan I can easily get a vegan burger at Coyote Jacks or if I’m trying to eat healthy, I can go to create and substitute the chips for like a whole fruit or parfait or whatever you want. So, that was the main reason why we changed all that to give them more variety and flexibility in the many sections. That way they are not stuck with just getting two or three things off a preset menu,” said Granados.

Texas State junior, Desiree Hernandez, is a commuter that used to have the previous dining system before it changed this fall of 2019. She said the price increase for food on campus made an impact on her.

“So, what surprised me the most was inflation of prices because before it wasn’t as much as it is now to get a meal swipe. It used to be around roughly 7 dollars for a meal swipe but now it ranges from 8 to 10 dollars,” said Hernandez.

In regard to the price increase in some of the dining locations Chua confirms that some of the price value we had in the past year is no longer there considering the changes made to some of the ingredients in the Jones dining center. 

Chua says the main ingredient for the sandwich shop Create and the chicken tender shop called Wing- it, changed which rose the pricing on a meal. 

You can find on-the-go food at places like Paws ‘N’ Go, Paws Market, or Outtakes.

“We used to be able to produce bread in house which drive the cost really competitive. We are no longer able to do that because the machine is old and its dangerous to the safety of our associates. We have to get rid of all this equipment that has been here for a long time. So, in order for us to continue to serve quality bread we now source the bread from a local bakery in Kyle. That bread is a little bit pricier but its premium products. That is one of the main reasons why it drives the price higher. Same thing as some other ingredient like chicken breast or chicken tenders. Now the chicken tenders are made from chicken breast it’s a different quality that we use to make the chicken tenders at Jones where there’s no consistency. Now you have more consistent product,” said Chua. 

Chua says we now have quality food being served that is authentic and fresher than before considering the variety in selections a student with a meal plan has to pick in comparison to the set menu for meal trades of last year. 

Panda Express now has an open menu for students with meal plans.

“Meal trade system is one of the challenges for example, people would just go meal trade that particular item while we have to service the rest of the line. Panda Express for example when you have meal trade everybody buys only orange chicken nobody is going to buy broccoli beef and all that is a lot of food quality issues, the challenge and the waste because we still need to get rid of it after certain time and you’re not getting the freshest product. Now without the meal trade everybody with the meal equivalency or declining balance is able to buy quite evenly from the products so the product doesn’t go to waste,” said Chau.

The augmentation in dinning dollars and the regression in meal trades has increased the transactions in convenient stores all around campus, because there are more dining dollars to go around. The library’s convenient store’s transactions has doubled and the college of engineering convenient store located in the ground floor has increased transactions about 50% to 75%. Not to mention the increase in consumption at Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks.

Chau and Granados have an innovated vision for the Texas State’s campus dining experience. Chau said great things await for those with dietary needs. 

“Trust me before you know it, I can see this happening in less than 5 years maybe even 3 years when we have a new dining hall open up we’re going to convert one of the dining halls into like a more dietary dining hall so it can be gluten free, nut free environment. It’s still going to be delicious but just so we can satisfy those who have dietary needs now they will have access to that, and it will be all you can eat,” said Chau. 

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