KOSHIN MATSUSHIMA • THE SPECTATOR
After a slew of issues and allegations last year, there are big changes happening with Seattle University’s food provider, Chartwells. These changes include a redesigned Cherry Street Market, Cave, as well as new menus and some structural changes within training and management.
The claims last year included supervisors and management mistreating workers, which involved violations of the union contract and schedules that conflicted with student workers’ class schedules. Employees also alleged that they were both underpaid and overworked.
Some students also reported health concerns last year following multiple instances of undercooked or improperly handled food, which led to students getting sick. Workers made claims involving the food production process, such as a lack of food handler permits, poor training for food safety and inadequate safety checks conducted by management. This seemed to be caused by a lack of communication about proper safety procedures between management, supervisors and workers about what needed to get done and what was actually happening on the front lines.
Last Wednesday at its grand opening event, Cherry Street Market unveiled their multiple new food serving stations, including new taco and prepared Asian food serving stations, along with a new redesigned menu.
There are even more changes to come according to Marketing Manager Brie Bordner, including a new jukebox music system for Cherry Street Market and new programs that Chartwells hopes will boost student engagement.
The Cave is also going through changes this year. Currently it is closed, with a temporary set up located in the Campion Game Room.
According to Chartwells management, the delay in the cave opening is because of the prolonged process to hang the new fume hood for the kitchen. The estimated opening date is set tentatively for the beginning of November.
Some lingering issues from last year still persist; several students have made allegations of food poisoning, being served undercooked and cold food and even receiving food with bugs in it. Some students also reported worry in regards to the on-campus food establishments due to fear of getting sick.
Jadds El Husseini, a first-year biology major, said he has gotten sick from the food on campus twice since school started. He now tries to eat off-campus or prepare his own food because he is worried that eating on campus has the potential to affect his education.
“Initially, whenever I would sit down to do homework or go out to classes, I would have really bad stomach pains,” El Husseini said. “I would expect the quality of food to be better here because you need to be healthy to get an education.”
Chartwells has been trying to remedy these issues by increasing food safety training and making sure proper measurements are taken to ensure food is cooked properly. New Resident District Manager Terry Conaty encourages students to talk directly with Chartwells and alert them to any issues if there is a problem with the food.
As far as the state of the workers, there seems to be a consensus that the new management is attempting to ensure employees are respected. Management vies to follow the union contract that was originally established by Bon Appatit in regards to making sure students’ class schedules are taken properly into account.
One employee, who asked to be kept anonymous to protect their job, reported that the company has really tried to change, especially when it comes to employee treatment and training.
“The managers have been really good about jumping in and helping, they’ve just been good about being there for us so far,” the employee said. Conaty said that the entire Chartwells management team has been reinvented, with a mix of old and new team members in order to better respond to issues that arise and to get students to buy back in. He said that there have been major changes to both the team and culture.
“We quickly realized that we will never be successful unless we got the engagement and the commitment from all of us,” Conaty said. “I genuinely find that having an engaged team will lead to a lot of other things falling into place and the food will get a little better.”
Whether or not these positive changes are permanent solutions to the problems that existed last year is a question that will remain unanswered as students move through the school year. Conaty explained that management is now prioritizing collaboration amongst the company. “Our priority has to be our team. We are not where we want to be, but if I can continue to see the needle moving in the right direction then I’ll be doing a good job.”
Logan may be reached at [email protected]