Community Updates

Week 1 | Jan. 25 –  29

The first meeting of the Smith Dining Strategic Planning Committee on Jan. 27th marked the official launch of the project. A group of representatives from across the campus community gathered in the Campus Center to review the project’s timeline and objectives and to begin the visioning process to consider what the Smith community desires the Dining Services to look like in the future? Initial reflections on this question can be found on the “Visioning” page.

Week 2 | Feb. 1-5

As part of the data collection required of the strategic planning process, independent consultant team Holly Fowler and Scott Richardson of Northbound Ventures will be conducting observational research in all dining facilities in the month of February. To assist them, research assistant positions were announced and a pool of great applicants reviewed.

Week 3 | Feb. 8-12

IMG_1595It was a busy week, as information and resource gathering continued and research planning began in earnest. We did an initial deep dive into the CBORD database to establish baseline participation trends across all dining locations by meal and had the chance to review results of the recent “Late Night Dining” survey. We also met with various Dining Services and Facilities personnel, including participation in staff meetings at Dawes House and Gillette.

Photo: Avocados at Dawes. Do you know this artist? 

Week 4 | Feb. 15-19

Observational research began and our team of project managers and student research assistants gathered demand data at 26 meal periods across 11 dining halls. Many of you probably noticed us counting, counting, counting the number of people coming and going for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some of you even asked what we were doing and we were pleased to share information about this process.

Project Managers, Holly and Scott, also attended several staff meetings to learn more about patterns of dining at Morrow/Wilson, Comstock/Wilder, King/Scales, Chapin, Hubbard, and Cushing/Emerson.

Week 5 | Feb. 22-26

More counting! The second full week of observational research is underway. Wednesday Feb. 24th is also the second meeting of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee.

If you see us, say hello!

Week 6 | Feb. 29 – Mar. 5

The student survey is live! The survey is a great way for us to learn more about student dining habits and preferences. Please take a few moments to complete the survey by next Thursday March 10th at 11:59:59 PM. By completing and submitting the survey, students earn a chance to win one of ten (10) $25 Dining Dollars rewards. Winners will be notified on Friday March 11th. Isn’t that a great way to start your break!?

Take the Dining Services Student Survey now:

Week 7 | Mar. 7 – 11

The student survey period has concluded! It was a great success and we thank everyone who participated. We received 900 responses from the Smith community, which will inform our understanding and analysis of student dining habits and preferences.

By completing and submitting the survey, students earned a chance to win one of ten $25 Dining Dollars rewards. Ten winners of the $25 Dining Dollars rewards were randomly selected. Check out the announcement and list of winners on the Smith College Dining Facebook page.

Thank you again for taking time out of your busy mid-term schedules to assist the strategic planning process!

Week 8 | Mar. 14-18 (Spring Break)

Scott and Holly are hard at work wading through the data of the student survey.

Week 9 | Mar. 21-25

The third meeting of the Smith College Dining Strategic Planning steering committee was held on March 22nd. On the agenda was a review of all activities to date (e.g. data collection, meetings with stakeholders, student survey, etc.) and presentation of the preliminary results of the student survey. The week included participation in the SGA and HPA meetings to share progress of the planning progress. Students were reminded of why consistent and accurate onecard use (e.g. swiping) is critical to effective dining staff planning and production.

Week 10 | Mar. 28 – Apr. 1

The final phase of the planning process is in full swing with a deeper look at the operational aspects of the Smith dining program, including ordering, production records, inventory management, menu standards, and composting trends.

As April approaches, we will gather industry benchmarks to place Smith Dining in context to other leading institutions and tour campuses to examine similarities and differences with Smith’s program.

Week 11 | Apr. 4-8

Week 11 found us integrating the last bit of observational research into graphs to support operational planning for the next academic year. We have also visited two leading dining programs on other campuses so far as part of benchmarking Smith’s program. This will help with a gap analysis to identify how Smith might achieve its goal of improved ranking (from top 50 to top 5).

Week 12 | Apr. 11-15

There are just a couple of weeks left before we deliver final findings to the Smith Dining Strategic Planning committee. There are more campuses to visit for bench marking and sustainability attributes and dining best practices to incorporate into our research and report this week.

Don’t forget to swipe your card in the dining halls. Thank you!


The Final Weeks!

It’s a wrap. The fourth and final meeting of the strategic planning committee was held on Friday April 29. The last delivery of data and research focused on operations and benchmarking. On the operational side, we looked at rates and cost of china loss, amount of disposables used by site, composting volumes, procurement processes, and space use. For benchmarking, we visited institutions that top the Princeton Review’s Best Campus Food ranking like Bowdoin College and UMass Amherst to show how Smith compares nationally and against the best dining programs in the nation when it comes to meal time.

The Smith community will have the chance to read the full synthesis of the strategic plan process when it is released. Our appreciation to all who have participated and good luck with finals and graduation!



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