CNU 24-Hour Dining Options

dining_logo

To: Kevin Ososkie, Director of Christopher Newport University Dining Services
From: Lydia Johnson, Student at Christopher Newport University
Subject: CNU 24-Hour Dining Options
Date: May 28, 2015

The purpose of this memo is to propose an on-campus 24-hour dining option included in CNU students’ meal plans.

Christopher Newport University offers students a range of dining options within their meal plans. The campus has two dining halls and five café-style eateries, all of which are open at various times throughout the week. All seven of these food options are included in students’ meal plans, either through meal swipes or dining dollars. East Campus contains several restaurants and one convenience store, yet the student meals plans do not include these as meal swipe or dining dollar options.

One frequent student complaint involves the lack of late night and early morning dining options included in meal plans. Both dining halls operate during limited hours and close at either 7:30 or 8 pm each night of the week. Four of the five remaining dining options close at 10 pm or earlier. Einstein’s Café—the only late-night dining option—stops serving food at 12 am Sunday-Thursday. Students who remain studying in the library past 12 am have no convenient dining option that uses their meal plan. Others who have weekday commitments before 7:30 a.m. have no way to access food. On the weekends, the options are even more limited. Dining halls provide only two meals a day, and the latest dining option on campus closes at 10 pm.

As CNU’s recognition increases, the school should improve its quality of student life by creating a 24-hour dining facility. Several schools throughout the country have already implemented 24/7 dining facilities, including George Mason University, University of Georgia, and Lynn University. 24/7 dining provides a way for busy students to access food at times that are convenient for them. Students would no longer have to worry about missing meals due to limited hours of dining halls and eateries. Also, students without kitchens in their dorm rooms would have greater access to food during late nights, early mornings, and weekends. Students would have more options within their meal plans and would no longer be forced to access food off-campus.

To determine whether or not such a dining facility would benefit CNU students, an online survey was dispersed to students of the CNU community. This qualitative research study used an ethnographic approach and collected the surveys anonymously. Many students claimed they frequently eat during the hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am, meaning the current on campus dining options are not meeting students’ needs. Over half the students claimed they are dissatisfied with the current dining options on campus. When asked for input, most respondents supported the creation of a 24-hour dining facility that would give them more options within their meal plans.

If you have questions about this research, please contact Lydia Johnson at lydia.johnson.13@cnu.edu or (434) 401-5316.

Abstract

“CNU 24-Hour Dining Options”
Prepared by: Lydia Johnson
Shift Leader, Einstein’s Café
English Major (B.A.)
Christopher Newport University

In May 2015, Lydia Johnson, a student at Christopher Newport University, researched ways to improve her school’s late night and early morning dining options on campus. The CNU campus currently has no dining options available after 12 am during the school week, even though the library remains open all night. Dining is even more limited on the weekends, with only one dining hall open and all food access ending at 10 pm. To gather data for the study, a 10-question survey was created and dispersed online to current CNU students. The survey targeted late night/early morning eating patterns of CNU students and student satisfaction with the current dining options. An analysis of the data proved that the current CNU dining options for late night/early morning times are not meeting students’ needs. To solve this problem, CNU should create a 24-hour dining facility that uses either meal swipes or dining dollars from the students’ meal plans. Many respondents showed strong enthusiasm towards the idea of a 24-hour dining option on campus. A significant portion of students also expressed dissatisfaction with the current CNU dining options included in their meal plans. A 24-hour dining facility would allow students greater flexibility in their class schedules. According to recent research on 24-hour college dining, it also would create new time slots for more classes, improving campus life in other areas (“More”). CNU Dining Services should consider the implementation of a 24-hour dining facility that uses students’ meal plans. Several college campuses nationwide already have incorporated 24-hour dining based on students’ needs, and Christopher Newport University should follow this example.

Tags: Campus dining, Christopher Newport University, meal plan, 24-hour, students, dining options, 24/7

Introduction

Christopher Newport University currently houses seven dining facilities that use student meal plans. Yet Commons and Regatta’s, the two dining halls on campus, operate on limited hours. Food service begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 8 pm Monday-Friday. On weekends, only two meals a day are offered, beginning at 10:30 am and ending at 8 pm. The other five dining options on campus also operate on limited hours. Four of these five remaining dining options close at 10 pm or earlier on weekdays, including Chick-fil-A, Discovery Bistro, Discovery Pizza, and Discovery Grill. Einstein’s Café only serves food until 12 am Sunday-Thursday.

The problem studied was the current dining options’ inability to accommodate late night/early morning eating habits of students. A 10-question anonymous survey was distributed to 22 CNU students, and the answers revealed that students are not satisfied with the current late night/early morning dining options. The study revealed that most CNU students have difficulty accessing the current dining options during late night/early morning times. More than half the respondents agreed that they did not have enough late night/early morning dining options. Many students felt unsatisfied that Einstein’s is the only late night dining option currently available on campus. A substantial portion of the students claimed they frequently eat during the late night/early morning times when no dining options are available. This data then was compared to the 24-hour dining facilities at George Mason University, Lynn University (Boca Raton, FL), and University of Georgia.

The research concluded that the CNU student body would benefit greatly from a 24-hour dining option. Many CNU students participate in athletics and ROTC, both of which hold meetings around 6 am during the week. This means students in these organizations cannot access food before their activities, forcing them to perform strenuous physical activity on empty stomachs. Students such as Resident Assistants do not receive dining dollars in their meal plans, forcing them to arrange their hectic schedules around the limited hours of the dining halls. In addition, students with early morning weekend commitments such as Sunday morning church services have no way to access food on campus until 10:30 am. The comparison to other schools showed that implementing 24-hour dining at CNU would give students more options and would create more flexibility in their schedules. The 24/7 dining hall at Lynn University also showed that 24-hour dining would not be too costly to implement. Based on the research, CNU Dining Services should create a 24-hour dining option on campus.

Theory

This qualitative research study was conducted using an ethnographic approach. An ethnographic study generally contains more than 20 individuals and looks at shared patterns within a cultural group. This approach was used since the study looked at shared late night/early morning eating habits and at shared feelings towards CNU late night/early morning dining options. The study targeted current CNU students as the cultural group. Also, the study contained 22 individuals that answered an online survey. A realist ethnography helped the researcher avoid personal bias and helped the researcher objectively report the survey results.

Research Methods

1. A 10-question online survey was created and dispersed to students of the CNU community. 22 students responded. The researcher used an ethnographic approach in the qualitative research study and created the survey using Survey Monkey. To view survey questions, please consult the Appendix.

2. After collecting the survey results, the researcher consulted online articles that discussed the 24-hour dining policies at other universities.

Findings

1. Survey Results: After the survey results were collected, the media platform Many Eyes was used to create visualizations of the data. When asked to describe their living situations, 81.81% of respondents claimed they were students with meal plans, and 36.36% of those with meal plans claimed they did not have kitchens in their dorm rooms. Nearly all of the respondents claimed that at some point, they had experienced difficulty accessing their meal plan food options between the hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am. This means a majority of students are attempting to access food on campus during hours when food options are either limited or unavailable.

Percentages of students who have experienced difficulty accessing food options in their meal plans between the hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am:

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 3.00.34 AM

68.18% of respondents claimed that when on campus dining options were unavailable, they could easily access food from an off-campus location either by walking or driving. However, 36.36% of respondents claimed they only sometimes felt safe accessing off-campus locations, while 18.18% claimed they often felt unsafe. This revealed that although other food options are available when on campus dining is closed, students are not always comfortable venturing off campus to purchase food after dark.

59.09% of students claimed they do not have enough on campus dining options between the hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am, and 27.27% of students claimed they usually do not have enough options during these hours. Many respondents were also unsatisfied that Einstein’s is currently the only late night dining option on campus. 33.33% claimed they were not satisfied with this option, and 47.62% claimed they usually were not satisfied with this option. Later text-box responses showed that students mainly are unsatisfied with the limited food options Einstein’s offers. The combination of these two factors revealed that although CNU offers one late night dining option, students are not happy with this option.

While not all students eat between the hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am, the data revealed that more students would eat during these hours if they had a 24-hour dining option. Overall, the survey revealed that a majority of CNU students are unsatisfied with the current late night/early morning dining options. 54.55% of respondents claimed they were somewhat unsatisfied with the dining options, and 13.64% claimed they were completely unsatisfied. No students claimed they were completely satisfied with the current late night/early morning dining options.

Percentages of Surveyed Students Who Eat Between the Hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am:

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 1.00.20 AM
Percentages of CNU Students That Claimed How Often They Would Use a 24-Hour Dining Facility:

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 2.42.02 AM

The final question in the survey was a fill-in-the-blank response question asking, “What would you change about the CNU late night/early morning dining options?” Word Cloud was used to create a data visualization of student responses. According to the data visualization, the words “need” and “options” appeared multiple times in the data. Students used the word “need” when making suggestions and refrained from using the word “want.” A Lexipedia search of words students frequently used in their answers revealed new insights about the data. Noun synonyms that appeared for “need” included “demand: a condition requiring relief” and “want: anything that is necessary but lacking.” A verb synonym that appeared was “demand: require as useful, just, or proper.” A rhetorical analysis of the data showed that since students used the word “need” instead of “want,” the respondents feel that they do not have necessary food options in their meal plans.

An additional rhetorical analysis was completed using Voyeur Tools. The following is a search of the text box responses:

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 3.56.45 AM

This visualization revealed that the words “more” and “options” appeared together most frequently. 2 out of 11 respondents to the text-box question used the phrase “more options” when making suggestions.” Also, another 2 out of 11 respondents mentioned Einstein’s and either followed with the phrase “more options” or suggested longer hours. The rhetorical analysis revealed that students want more options of food, not just longer hours.

2. Article Research: Online research revealed that several college campuses have implemented 24/7 dining facilities within recent years. Institutions such as George Mason University, University of Georgia, and Lynn University (Boca Raton, Florida) all have 24/7 food services. The 24-hour food service at Lynn has created several positive changes within the student body. Discussing Lynn’s reasons for this change, Allie Grasgreen reports, “Athletes, working students and international students, many of whom tend to eat later, would regularly miss meals when the kitchen was only open for a few three-hour periods throughout the day” (“More”). Lynn contracted a company called Sodexo to make this change. After interviewing several employees of Lynn, Grasgreen writes, “Because students aren’t necessarily eating more – just differently – and because Sodexo covers labor costs, dining’s budget line hasn’t really changed” (“More”). This means the creation of a 24-hour dining facility at CNU would not greatly deter the school’s annual budget for food services. Vice president for business and finance Laurie Levine affirms, “At the end of the day…it’s not costing us any more than the normal year-to-year increase that we were expecting to see” (“More”).

Aside from the two factors mentioned above, 24/7 dining at Lynn also allowed for a new 2-hour 5 pm class to be created. Gregg Cox (Vice President for Academic Affairs) discussed the new class time made available because of the 24-hour cafeteria. He said, “It’s our role to meet students where they are and find a time that works best for them educationally…If that’s what works best for students, then that’s what we’re going to do” (“More”).

The Southside dining hall at George Mason remains open 24/7 and includes 6 restaurants on the main floor. The campus also contains a 24-hour Starbucks and a restaurant called The Pilot House that remains open until 4 am Tuesday-Saturday. The student meal plan at GMU also offers an Anytime Dining Program, which allows students to access the dining facilities as many times as they want throughout the day with no restrictions. University of Georgia is another institution offering 24-hour dining, although the 24-hour availability is restricted to weekday dining. Kelly Fitzpatrick praises the 24-hour weekday dining at UGA when she states, “Even after a late-night study session students don’t need to resort to fast food” (“Healthiest”).

A comparison to other schools showed that implementing a 24-hour dining facility at CNU would bring positive results. Students would have more flexibility within their schedules and would no longer be constrained by limited dining facility hours. Also, students would no longer be forced to access fast food off-campus when on campus dining options are unavailable. This would potentially decrease student obesity rates, especially if the 24-hour dining facility offered healthy alternatives to fast food. Most first and second year students do not have the privilege of kitchens in their dorm rooms, and they rely on the campus dining options as their primary food source. These CNU students pay nearly $2,000 per semester for campus dining services, and dining services should give these students a wider range of time to use their meal plans. If the lack of kitchens in residence halls prevents students from making their own food, the campus should be able to provide food 24 hours a day for students who cannot prepare food in their rooms whenever they need it.

Overall, the comparison to other schools and the results of the qualitative research study revealed that the Christopher Newport University student body would greatly benefit from the implementation of a 24-hour dining facility on campus.

Appendix

Survey Questions

1. Describe your living situation:

I am a student living on campus with a meal plan. I do not have a kitchen in my dorm room.
I am a student living on campus with a meal plan. I have a kitchen in my dorm room.
I am a student living on campus without a meal plan. I have a kitchen in my dorm room.
I am a student living off campus with a meal plan.
I am a student living off campus without a meal plan.

2. Have you ever experienced difficulty accessing the food options included in your meal plan (dining halls, Einstein’s, Discovery Bistro/Grill/Pizza, Chick-fil-A) during the hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am?

Yes
More often than not
Sometimes
Not often
No

3. If you live on campus, can you easily access food options not covered by your meal plan between the hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am?

Yes, I have a car and can drive to a grocery or convenience store.
Yes, I can take a short walk to a grocery or convenience store.
No, I do not have a car and there are no grocery or convenience stores within walking distance near me.
I do not live on campus.
Other.

4. Do you feel safe accessing food off campus between the hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am?

Yes
More often than not
Sometimes
Not often
No

5. Do you feel that the CNU campus provides enough late night/early morning dining options?

Yes, I always have enough on campus food options between the hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am.
More often than not, I have enough on campus food options between the hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am.
In between.
More often than not, I do not have enough on campus food options between the hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am.

No, I do not have enough on-campus food options between the hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am.

6. Are you satisfied that Einstein’s is the only dining option open past 10 pm (stops serving food at 12 am Sunday-Thursday)?

Yes
More yes than no
In between
More no than yes
No

7. How often do you eat between the hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am?

Frequently
More often than not
Sometimes
Not often
Never

8. If CNU created 24-hour dining option included in the student meal plan, how often would you use such a facility?

Often
More often than not
Sometimes
Not often
Never

9. Overall, how satisfied are you with the CNU late night/early morning dining options?

Completely satisfied
Somewhat satisfied
In between
Somewhat unsatisfied
Completely unsatisfied

10. What would you change about the CNU late night/early morning dining options? Actual student responses follow:
“We need at least an hour or two more after dinner and before breakfast for those that stay up late or wake up really early for things like ROTC.”
“We need something open 24/7 even if it’s only comfort and junk food. Einstein’s is great, but it’s not all week, and it they transitioned to 24/7 it would still be student workers pulling even longer hours. We need some place on Main Campus that hires within the Newport News community and is open to satisfy late night/early morning dining needs.”
“I respect and admire the dining hall staff, and I don’t want to make them work any later than they reasonably should, os perhaps a 24-hour ‘convenience store’ somewhere in the DSU would help. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or well-stocked, just something with sandwiches and snack food — the kind of stuff you could pick up at a gas station.”
“More options. Some people have classes at inconvenient times and can’t eat during dining hall hours. One 24hr place would be fantastic.”
“More options of food and more places with meal swipe options”
“Einstein’s only has so many options and no one wants a pizza or bagel sandwich in the morning”
“We should have something open all night”
“Refrain from putting meat in mac n cheese on Tender Tuesday and make it open 24 hours”
“Nothing.”
“Some kind of 24 hour restaurant somewhere”
“Sounds good to me”

References

Fitzpatrick, Kelly. “The 25 Healthiest Colleges in the U.S., 2012.” Greatist.com. Greatist, 9 Apr. 2012. Web. 25 May 2015.

Grasgreen, Allie. “More Dining, Less Dozing (In Class).” Inside Higher Ed. Inside Higher Ed, 27 Jan. 2014. Web. 25 May 2015.

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