First-Years Offer Ideas On Quality Of Meals

14 Students Feast On Gourmet Food

On Wednesday night Valentine Cadieux '98 and Anton D. Ford '98 feasted on sirloin steak and kiwi sorbet--at the Freshman Union.

While their classmates made do with escalloped turkey, Cadieux, Ford, and a dozen other randomly-chosen first-years spent two hours suggesting improvements in meal quality to Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) managers and staff.

Students said their experience was much different from the traditional Union fare.

"It was really surreal to be in the Union," Cadieux said, "Because you're in the Union but it was so un-Unionesque."

As part of an ongoing effort to beef up service, HUDS has hired Fessel International, a California-based marketing and consulting firm, to survey students and gather their input and suggestions.


The consulting firm will audit HUDS operations and will serve as a "disinterested third part" gauging student input, Michael P. Berry, director of HUDS, said yesterday. Berry said the consulting firm will be more effective in creating and interpreting surveys than would the Dining Services.

Fessel International is currently writing a survey to be distributed in mid-April, along with the Dining Service's own annual survey, Berry said.

The firm's survey will affect "longer range strategic goals [of the Dining Services]," Berry said. It will also explore the possibility of using student ID cards to dine off campus.

Fessel, which has been working with HUDS since the beginning of this month, has organized focus groups on thecampuses of the College and several graduateschools.

"These groups, comprised of a random sample ofstudents, were designed to inform Fessel about thecampus and its dining needs," Berry said.

Berry said the firm's report will be releasedin May.

Fessel International has provided similaranalyses of dining services at StanfordUniversity, the University of Massachussetts andthe University of Louisiana, Berry said.

Berry declined to quote the cost of Fessel'sservices.

"They're getting paid what consultants get," hesaid.

HUDS has been increasingly concerned withstudent satisfaction, Berry said, citing theresults of last year's dining services survey, inwhich the top 10 student suggestions wereimplemented.

"I don't know of any other student serviceorganization that does this much to try to satisfyits customers," he said.

Cadieux said she would be a satisfied customerif the Union were to serve the kiwi sorbet againfrequently