Has Aramark made its mark?

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Has Aramark made its mark?

Simeon Deutsch

Simeon Deutsch

Simeon Deutsch

Aramark is returning next year after a 7-0 vote by students and staff.

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It’s no secret that throughout the year, the student and staff response to the change in the food service provider from Sodexo to Aramark has been less than positive. In August and September the school was alive with the chatter of the complaining students and staff towards Aramark.

But as the year went on, much of the New Trier community has found that their experience and interactions with Aramark have improved.

Among the most notable changes has been the return of white bread in the famous sandwich lines and the white crust in the pizza lines. Also, the fryers have been turned back on. In the beginning of April, several friend a la carte options were introduced including mozzarella sticks, popcorn chicken, jalapeno poppers, chicken wings, and zucchini sticks.

The return of the much-craved slushies was a welcome site for the avid soda drinkers. Aramark also opened the small cafeteria which offers grab-n-go options and most popular of all, Starbucks coffee.

Principal Timothy Dohrer admitted that the transition was not easy but things have improved. “It has been a good change. As a result, the students and staff who eat in the cafeterias regularly, see that there has been an improvement,” explained Dohrer. “They like some of the foods that are there now. And the reports that we have gotten back from focus groups, and our staff committees and our student committees, is that they want us to continue with Aramark next year.”

Dohrer explained that Aramark made numerous changes to accommodate students, They added more personnel, changed chefs in the middle of the year, changed recipes, brought back old favorites, and brought in foods that students requested.
Leslie Jackson, a member of the Student-Staff Food Committee, believes the food service has changed “night and day” since the beginning of the year. She said the temperature of the food has improved. “They keep it warm now, at the beginning of the year it was very cold. We had to microwave it. And the food has gotten fresher, the recipes are better, the spices are better,” said Jackson.

Faculty member Heidi Haueisen explained that her experience with Aramark has improved substantially since the beginning of the year.”She cited the increased number of options and the made-to-order meals as points of improvement.

Stephanie Gamauf, a Spanish teacher, said that her first experience with the new food service was far from a positive one. In my first experience, the salad bar was awful. I didn’t like it. Nothing tasted fresh. It tasted straight out of a can. More recently I have noticed a bit of a difference. We get a free dessert every time we buy.”

While the food quality and service has improved since the beginning of the year, some students still find the food to be subpar. Junior David Resnekov eats the cafeteria food every day, but he said, “It is definitely worse than last year, but it is apparently very health, which I guess is good. I have seen improvement since the beginning of the year, but I wouldn’t call it good food.”

But senior Leland Later believes that Aramark deserves a break and that not all of the complaints are warranted. “Aramark has accommodated the students’ wishes. Anytime there is an overhaul like this, people will complain because they were accustomed to the old format,” said Later.

In response to how the administration dealt with the negative reactions, Doher said, “We listened. We absolutely heard every single complaint. We were honest about it. They were honest about it. Every single request that came in to change or try something else out, we did. And Aramark was very, very responsive.”

Specifically, Josh Wenger, Aramark’s food service director explained how recently students had been asking for turkey jerky to be offered in the small cafeteria. It is now being sold there. Students also requested that Italian dressing be an option in the sandwich line, which it now is.

Aramark is looking to make more changed in the near future, including an outside food cart with grab-n-go options and having fresh sushi sold made-to-order every day.

In terms of next year, and looking further into the future, Dohrer said, “We are looking forward to starting the school year off next year with this level of quality and get some people to come back and try the cafeteria.”

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