chartwells

A ‘Plains 2 Table’ employee serves food to students in the Dining Commons on Monday. Chartwells Higher Education, known as “Spartan Eats,” aims to create a more health-conscious environment.

When Chartwells Higher Education, now “Spartan Eats,” took over food operations at San Jose State University on July 1, they sought to make substantial changes to the student Dining Commons.

The changes focused not only on adding healthier items to the menu, but on creating a more health-conscious environment at the commons.

Hanging above the self-serve food stations are blue, white and gold-colored posters that read ‘eat local,’ and ‘we’re lowering our carbon footprint.’ Marketing Director of Spartan Eats Stephanie Fabian, said the posters were meant to encourage students to make healthier choices.

“The signs are there to remind students that we’ve heightened the quality of the food. We have cage free eggs, our food is bought locally, and our new menus give more nutritional fact about the food,” Fabian said.

Menus now show the food alongside one of four indicating symbols. Students can see which items are vegan or vegetarian friendly, if their selections are a part of a “balanced diet,” and if they contain gluten. Calories, carbohydrates and protein counts are listed as well.

Executive Chef of the university dining facilities, Mitchell Fishman oversees all of the food choices offered on the campus.

 

This is the first semester Fisherman is working with student staff and student customers.

“I’ve never dealt with students at a university before, but I want to make them engaged and have them be interested in the fresh food we have,” Fisherman said.

Fisherman, and Vice President of Operations, Spyros Gravas, say they plan to host cooking classes in front of the restaurant Neighborhood Eats in the dining commons.

The eateries added in the course of the Commons’ renovation includes an Italian pizza spot called Flour + Sauce, which has replaced Southside Pizza & Pasta. The new venue it also cooks the pizza inside of a brick oven, however makes the pizza dough from scratch. 

Fourth year psychology student Gabby Junez, who is a team lead at Flour + Sauce, said she expected the job to get a little bit hectic when the change in ownership was announced.

“I’ve been working here for four years and things are constantly changing,” Junez said. “The people I work with are really cool. . . there’s a lot of them that I remember seeing at orientation and now they’re getting promotions and stuff.”

‘Interactive Corner’ is another self-serve station at the commons. The station is lined with iPad tablets students can use to apply for jobs, sign up for cooking classes, and schedule a tour with Spartan Eats’ registered dietitian Jacqueline Ernst-Smith.

Students are encouraged to take leftovers home too. Brand new plastic containers can now be picked up at Neighborhood Eats in the event that some students are in a hurry. Once folks finish using them, they can return them right back where they got them, no cleaning required.

One of the new strategies Spartan Eats is implementing at the commons has been the relocation of the more popular food venues, such as Bok Choy and Flames to the end of the cafeteria loop.

“We’re putting the popular items like burgers, fried food, and Asian cuisine as the last block the students pass by so that they have a chance to check out all of the other options they might have not seen before,” Fabian said.

Justice Studies freshman, Valeria Hernandez, shared her opinion on the food quality after her first week of eating at the commons.

“It’s bad,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez feels the Latin food options, such as the new eatery SONO, doesn’t live up to her standards.

“I wish I could have my mom’s cooking instead, or some more authentic Mexican food options,” Hernandez said.

While students are also going to see a new sales tax on food because of Chartwells’ status as a private company, Gravas feels confident the quality improvements will be worth the price increase.

“A more health oriented dining commons is what we’re striving for, whether that’s with the plastic containers, the cooking classes, or the little signs you see above your head. We want students to know that we’re trying,” Gravas said.

This is the first semester Fisherman is working with students as staff and customers.

“I want to make them engaged and have them be interested in the fresh food we have,” Fisherman said.

Fisherman, and Vice President of Operations, Spyros Gravas, said they plan to host cooking classes in front of the restaurant Neighborhood Eats in the dining commons.

The eateries added in the course of the Commons’ renovation includes an Italian pizza spot called Flour + Sauce, which replaced Southside Pizza & Pasta. 

The venue cooks the pizza inside a brick oven, and the dough is made from scratch. 

Psychology senior Gabby Junez, is a team leader at Flour + Sauce. 

She said she expected the job to get a little bit hectic once the change in ownership was announced.

“I’ve been working here for four years and things are constantly changing,” Junez said. “The people I work with are really cool. . .I remember seeing a lot of them at orientation and now they’re getting promotions and stuff.”

‘Interactive Corner’ is another self-serve station at the Commons. 

The station is lined with iPad tablets students can use to apply for jobs, sign up for cooking classes, and schedule a tour with Spartan Eats’ registered dietitian Jacqueline Ernst-Smith.

Students are encouraged to take leftovers home too. Plastic containers can now be picked up at Neighborhood Eats in the event that some students are in a hurry. 

Once folks finish using them, they can return them right back where they got them, no cleaning required.

One of the new strategies Spartan Eats is implementing at the commons has been the relocation of the more popular food venues, such as Bok Choy and Flames to the end of the cafeteria loop.

“We’re putting the popular items like burgers, fried food, and Asian cuisine as the last block the students pass by so that they have a chance to check out all of the other options they might have not seen before,” Fabian said.

Justice Studies freshman, Valeria Hernandez, shared her opinion on the food quality after her first week eating at the commons. “It’s bad,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez feels the Latin food options, such as the new eatery SONO, doesn’t live up to her standards.

“I wish I could have my mom’s cooking instead, or some more authentic Mexican food options,” Hernandez said.

Students will begin to see a new sales tax on food because of Chartwells’ status as a private company. Gravas is confident that the improvements will be worth the price increase.

“A more health-oriented dining common is what we’re striving for, whether that’s with the plastic containers, the cooking classes, or the little signs you see above your head. 

We want students to know that we’re trying,” Gravas said.

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