Earlier in the 2021-2022 school year, the Menlo Student Life team sent out a survey to Menlo students allowing them to share feedback on the lunch options offered by Flik, the dining service Menlo uses to provide food for students and faculty.
This survey allowed Director of Dining Thien Hoang and his team to accommodate Menlo’s preferred lunch menus. “The trends [showed us] that the kids like the entree to be a little more plain,” Hoang said.
As a result of this survey, Hoang and his team changed the menu to fit students’ preferences. For example, the mac and cheese is now served without ham and peas.
According to Hoang, the dining team will also add more lunch options where students are able to customize their meal. When they serve stir fry, the dining team now puts the vegetables in a separate buffet, and students are able to add on the ones they like.
The survey also indicated which meals were popular among the students, and Hoang is attempting to serve those meals with more frequency. According to Hoang, students most enjoyed chicken tenders and pizza, so now, the dining team alternates serving those meals each Friday.
The dining team tries to compliment the students’ lunches by serving dessert three days a week. However, Hoang admits the dessert options are limited. “Unfortunately right now, our cookie selection isn’t that great because of COVID-19 and the distribution,” Hoang said.
Due to the effects COVID-19 is having on the supply chain, Flik isn’t able to get all the ingredients and products they would like. Hoang cited the inconsistency in the utensils as an example of this supply chain issue. “Sometimes you see black forks, sometimes you see non-disposable and non-compostable forks because [Flik] sends that to us as a substitute,” Hoang said.
Hoang also noted that sometimes the food substitutes sent in place of the ones the dining team requests have certain allergens, like peanuts or tree nuts, that are not served at Menlo, so creating the menu becomes even more challenging.
While COVID-19 continues to be a challenge, Hoang is grateful to be serving the community. “It’s fairly new that we’re back in dining, so [my team is] just recognizing students, and the students are feeling more comfortable coming up to talk to us,” Hoang said.
The dining team appreciates hearing feedback from the community, students especially, because they want to serve nutritious meals that students enjoy. “I definitely [appreciate hearing feedback] because we’re never gonna improve if we keep on making the same mistakes that the kids don’t like,” Hoang said.