University Food Committee prepares to address campus dining issues


GVL / Sydney Lim

Jacob DeWeerd, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University’s University Food Committee (UFC) met for the first time on Friday Oct. 29, 2021. The committee, which consists of both students and faculty members, was created to identify problems and find solutions for campus dining-related issues. 

The UFC meeting was held in the Kirkhof Center and covered several of the most pressing issues with GVSU’s campus dining options. These topics include the shortage of student employees, location closures due to these shortages, and accommodating dietary restrictions and preferences.

Student Senate Vice President of Diversity Affairs Kyle Gineman is one of the co-Chairs of the UFC, as is Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Aaron Haight. Haight said the first meeting was focused on developing a focus for the committee this year and was closed to the public.

“We shared the Senate proposal from last year because this committee is a result of the Senate asking for more involvement,” Haight said. “Then, we just spent some time brainstorming and thinking of what we want to talk about this year.”

Gineman said he expected the campus dining employee shortage to be the most dominant topic.

“That is an issue that a lot of people have been bringing to the Senate’s attention and it’s an issue a lot of people are going to be very passionate about,” Gineman said.

One lesser-known consequence of the campus dining problem is how student resident assistants are being compensated for their work. A major job perk afforded to RAs is the included meal plan, but many RAs are finding it nearly impossible to make use of their plans because of closures and long lines at on-campus dining locations.

“There are so many places shut down on campus, so maybe a reimbursement is necessary because part of the salary of being an RA is the free meal plan and dining dollars,” Gineman said.

Utilizing a group activity, the committee identified three main themes to talk about at future meetings. Each member wrote down a topic they would like to focus on and stuck a sticky note on the wall for other members to see. After each member placed their notes, the three most popular topics were chosen. The staffing shortage was the first theme, but the other two are just as important, Haight said.

“We talked about access to food,” Haight said. “That topic revolved around food security and insecurity, like how we can make sure that students have food to eat and what that looks like.”

Due to many campus dining locations being closed, long lines are plaguing the remaining open locations. Students who do not have time to wait in line for food are finding it difficult to fit time to eat into their already-busy schedules. While some living centers allow students access to refrigerators to store their own food, most do not.

“The third area was about options,” Haight said. “What options are available if you have specific dietary needs, or cultural or religious needs? What options are available depending on your location on campus, like if you’re downtown.”

GVSU’s lack of accommodations for dietary restrictions has been a common complaint point among students in years past. Gineman said the UFC is aware of the feedback and is making it a priority to find ways for campus dining locations to offer more varied vegan, vegetarian and allergy-safe options.

Haight said that future UFC meetings are expected to cover who the university contracts food service out to and how to find new ways for students to make their campus dining feedback heard.

Meeting minutes and future UFC meeting dates can be found online at