Garrett Food Court plans discussed

Jackson French

With its new food committee, the WKU Restaurant and Catering Group is hoping to work closer with students to determine what complaints and concerns students have about on-campus dining.

Steve Hoyng, resident district manager for Aramark, Gary Meszaros, vice president for Auxiliary Services, and Elizabeth Barth, director of operations for WKU Dining Services, hosted the food committee’s first meeting last Thursday.

At the start of the meeting, Hoyng said he wanted the discussion to be informal and encouraged students on the committee to “chime in” with their thoughts.

“The goal of the meeting is just sharing ideas,” Hoyng said.

The student representation on the committee included members of the Student Government Association, the Residence Hall Association and WKU’s chapter of AID, a national organization involved with environmental and social justice issues.

At the meeting, Meszaros informed the committee that the Restaurant and Catering Group is planning to renovate the food court in Garrett Conference Center during the summer of 2015.

“We’re hoping to renovate the food court, similar to what we’re doing in DSU,” he said. “It’ll be a major renovation where we gut most of it and come up with a new plan and figure out what venues to put in there.”

Meszaros said he won’t know how much can be done with the Garrett renovations until a study to determine the scope and cost of the operation is conducted.

“Once we figure out what we can do,” he said, “then we have to go and say, ‘Okay, we have room for three venues or two venues or six venues, whatever. What do we want to put in there?’”

At the meeting, he asked the committee what kinds of restaurants they thought students would be interested in having in Garrett.

He said he expects the Garrett food court to grow in size during the renovations because there is potential to expand into space within the building left empty when WKU’s catering operation relocated to the Carroll Knicely Conference Center.

Meszaros also updated the committee on the progress being made on the Downing Student Union renovations. He said the department of Planning, Design, and Construction is ahead of schedule.

He said the renovations may be finished as early as June, but will conclude in August at the latest.

Louisville senior Molly Kaviar, a member of WKU AID who attended the meeting, said AID’s main reason for being a part of the food committee is to make sure there are sustainable food options on campus.

She said she was happy to learn during the meeting that Fresh Foods no longer uses plastic items, such as straws.

“That’s really unsustainable and a lot of it just goes straight to the trash rather than being recycled,” Kaviar said. “I hope that we can get… a real dialogue going about sustainable food choices on campus.”

The meeting concluded with the members of the committee agreeing to meet again on Monday, Dec. 5.

Meszaros said there will be no regular meeting schedule, adding that he hopes the committee’s members will come to him or Hoyng with new ideas on their own, rather than waiting until the next meeting.