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Caf approaches capacity serving, seating

As Belmont’s student population has grown during the past few years, space in many campus hotspots, including the cafeteria, has become harder to find.

While university officials are discussing plans for to build a new cafeteria, the current cafeteria’s staff has orchestrated systems to try to ensure that dining procedures go smoothly.

“The most important thing is to find out how efficient we can be,” said Kyle Grover, director of dining services. “Four years ago, we fed 500 people and thought that was a huge deal. Now we feed 1400 and above.”

This fall, the biggest spikes in cafeteria traffic have been after classes, Grover said. In an act of preventive management, Grover frequently stands in line talking with numerous students — “our best source of information,” he said. To date, he has received no negative comments about the wait times of around four to six minutes.

The status quo, however, may not need to be in place for much longer.

“For the future, there are plans for a new cafeteria being discussed by senior leadership,” said Don Purdy, director of auxiliary services.

Dining services is also trying to use different sources of data to better analyze the student population and its needs. At the beginning of each year, there’s a study of student ZIP codes to enable dining services to analyze eating habits in different parts of the country. The dining staff also counts products to know when to best serve certain students at certain times, for example, how many slices of roast beef it took to feed groups at different times of the day.

“The nature of the beast is to find out how many meals they eat in here,” Grover said. “We plan products based on the numbers and past production. Everything is in sync.”

In the meantime, dining services has adjusted to the increase with faster card machines and a nighttime pizza delivery service.

“The goal is to provide more opportunities and speed up the dining process,” Purdy said.

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