Stav Force One — a Student Government Association (SGA) Senate initiative — held a Town Hall meeting on April 26 in which St. Olaf students provided feedback on campus dining options – specifically Stav Hall.
The town hall consisted of a question and answer portion with a panel of individuals including Bon Appetit General Manager Traci Quinnell, Associate Dean of Students for Residence Life Pamela McDowell, Director of Financial Aid Steve Lindley, and Vice President for Student Life Hassel A Morrison. The panel worked to provide information from various parts of campus leadership relating to food concerns. The Chair of Stav Force One, Fenton Krupp ’24, led questions in the beginning before opening up the conversation so that audience members could ask questions and offer comments.
Bon Appetit (Bon App) is the College’s food service provider, running operations for both the Cage and Stav Hall. Bon App is an on-site restaurant company that does full-food service management to various corporations, universities, and museums in 32 states across the country. Bon App is also the service provider for Carleton College. St. Olaf transitioned to Bon App in 1996 and has been using it ever since.
Running approximately an hour and a half long, the Town Hall worked as a conversation between students and staff to share concerns, questions, and critiques relating to Stav’s food options. The event was run by Stav Force One in an effort to better understand student concerns as they work to present needed changes to the administration as well as Bon App leadership moving forward.
Sponsored by the Senate, Stav Force One is a group of 8 students dedicated to evaluating Stav Hall and dining services for students. The group consists of an Interfaith Fellow, a member of the Taylor Center Executive Council, a Bon App employee, athletic representatives, Student Senators, and Board of Regents Student Committee (BORSC) representatives. Started in Spring 2022, the group plans to continue through the 2022-23 school year. The goals of Stav Force One consist of gathering student input and officially reporting it to the College.
“Our mission, per the SGA bylaws, is to evaluate the dining needs of students at St. Olaf College, and the role of Stav Hall in satisfying the needs of students,” Krupp wrote in an email to the Messenger. “We’ve been gathering student input through targeted student group outreach and larger events aimed at the general student population.”
The Town Hall covered various topics like putting another dining option somewhere else on campus, bettering student wages, and issues of allergy accommodation and safety protocols. The majority of questions were pointed toward Quinnell as students mostly asked about their own experiences eating in Stav. One of the main issues that continued to come up was staffing shortages.
“I’m not gonna lie, COVID is killing us, it really is. My people are tired and you know they are tired. We are really looking forward to giving them a break this summer,” Quinell who continuously expressed various challenges that have come up due to problems with staff shortages, said.
“I’m very happy with how the town hall went. There was great energy in that ballroom,” Krupp wrote. “I think it will be vital to continue to create spaces for those conversations to happen, and I will ensure that is a primary goal of Stav Force One as long as I remain its chair.”
Stav Force One will be presenting a report to the leadership teams of the Finance Office and Bon App based on the Town Hall’s findings.
“This report will include our findings from research this semester and include recommendations that can be implemented beginning as soon as this summer,” Krupp wrote.
Stav Force One is hoping to continue coming up with better ways to streamline communication between students and staff regarding food on campus. Their goal is to shift away from semesterly reports and have a more ongoing relationship where student comments and critiques can be taken straight to Bon App as they come up.
“I thought the event went well. As I stated that night – good lines of communication are very important for everyone and it was a good start to open up the conversations.” Quinnell wrote in an email to the Messenger.
Interested students can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the Town Hall or feedback regarding dining on campus.
An archived live stream of the Town Hall can be viewed on Instagram, @theolafmessenger.