On Aug. 1, Aladdin replaced Aramark as Capital’s food service provider, signing a five year contract. Aladdin Food Management Services has been in business for 40 years as a part of Elinor North America.
With over 1,300 clients and over 15,000 team members, Aladdin works towards providing “fresh food, exceptional student-centered service, the latest in culinary trends, strict food safety practices, and robust staff training and education.”
“Health and wellbeing are core components of the holistic education we provide,” said Bill Mea, Capital’s vice president for Business and Finance, in an email to students and faculty. “We are eager to partner with Aladdin to offer our students, staff and guests the highest standard of dining and catering services.”
The selection came from a committee comprised of Jennie Smith, dean of students; Jon Geyer, director of Residential and Commuter Life; Jennifer Speakman, associate provost and Title IX and ADA Director; Era McMahon, director of Conference Services; and student leadership. Student groups like Student Government, Resident Assistants, Athletics, AMP, and those with nutritional concerns.
Various problems with Capital’s previous food provider, Aramark, are known to most, so for students and staff, the expectations this year are much higher.
“Our goal is to provide nutritious, healthy, safe food for students,” said Daniel Parton, Director of Dining Services.
Parton has been working for Aladdin for about a year and a half, but started his 27 year career in the food service industry at thirteen as a dishwasher. Parton has expanded his career through schooling at Central Piedmont Community College for an associates degree in culinary arts, and finished his degree with a bachelors degree in Business Administration and Information System Management at Catawba College.
“I’m definitely excited to be here,” said Parton. “It’s a nice campus, the challenges are real […] and I like to be challenged.”
Before students came to campus, staff had a full Ecolab Sanitation Audit for cleanliness and safety. Other new additions to come include a chef-attended Allergen Friendly Station for those with dietary concerns, a Capital-run food truck, and upcoming renovations to One Main Cafe, Main Dining Room, and Capital Grounds facilities during the summer of 2019. Seasonal options will also be incorporated into menus monthly, adding variety to dining.
Last semester Capital was named a Green Power Partner by the EPA because of its efforts to make campus more environmentally friendly, and has further extended this by adding green touches to dining.
“The goal for everywhere, is any disposables to be compostable, like sourcing the right products for the campus,” said Parton.
In addition to more compostables, dining services has brought out reusable takeout containers. Students turn in their used container and are given a clean one each time they are needed, cutting out styrofoam boxes. Also, lids and straws are used less, but are still available for those who need or want them.
With all the new changes, some existing food options will still exist. Capital Bucks are a feature used often and allow students to shop at retail shops on campus and local businesses including One Main Café, Capital Grounds, Jimmy Johns, C’est Si Bon and Moshi Sushi.
“The service is better,” said second year Ashley Soltysik. “The food is better in MDR and Aladdin is definitely an improvement over Aramark.”
With any new transition problems can arise, and dining is working to fix these issues, focusing primarily on the inefficiency of One Main.
“There’s a bug in the POS, so it doesn’t recognize when we’re swiping cards,” said Parton. “We’re not able to put items in the computer for them to print in the back, that’s why we’re handwriting tickets.”
The buzzer system in One Main was inherited by Aladdin, but because of missing hardware, the system isn’t available to be used, though it may make a reappearance.
“The food is much better,” said second year, Paige Matuszynski. “This year I prefer MDR over One Main because of the poor service in One Main.”
Just like students getting used to their classes, staff must get used to their jobs, and efficiency on both parts can only come with time.
Hours for MDR are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekends. One Main is open from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Monday to Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.