Point Park Globe

CulinArt: still a work in progress

Written By Kayla Snyder, Co-News Editor

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Point Park’s food provider, CulinArt, has officially been in service for nearly two semesters, and it is responsible for the newly renovated dining hall and café, along with other changes made by the university.

One of the changes that CulinArt and Dean of Students Keith Paylo came together to create was the reusable takeout container program in the dining hall.

Under the program, students will have the option to purchase a reusable takeout container for $5 using student flex. Every time the student brings back the container, they will receive a new one to use. When the student returns the very last container they use, they will receive their $5 deposit back in their account.

However, the program lasted only a few weeks. The containers seemingly disappeared, but Paylo said on Feb. 8, that more are on the way and the program is still in full swing. He credits the lack of the re-stocked containers to the success of the program.

“I’m happy to say the program went almost too well,” Paylo said. “What we’ve noticed is that students are willing to buy multiple containers to get used to this program.”

Paylo also said he didn’t know what to expect regarding the program. Noting that students have purchased multiple to-go containers, which led to the stock being limited.

“You can never predict what’s going to happen,” Paylo said. “One of two things could have happened — students can say no way and they don’t accept the program, or it goes over really well.”

Paylo said the halt of the program isn’t because of the lack of success overall, but rather because in order for the program to work, students have to exchange the containers out.

“I don’t consider it failure; I consider it a transition of students learning a new process,” Paylo said. “It is new. It is change.”

The program started because Point Park wanted to be a more environmentally-friendly place. Previously, the to-go containers were made out of styrofoam. Paylo explains these containers are reusable and eco-friendly and also meet all the needs of the students.

“I know that me and my friends are busy people, so sometimes you don’t always have the time to sit down and eat so getting boxes is a good option,” Pierre Mballa, freshman musical theatre major said.

Students have presented mixed reactions to the food being served in the Residential Dining Facility (RDF).

A group of musical theatre majors noticed the lack of variety being served in the dining hall.

Mballa said that he thinks that more protein options at the comfort food station need to be available.

“Often they have one kind of protein, but in a portion setting, it doesn’t allow you to have enough of it,” Mballa said. “While the grill is always supplied, the comfort food station isn’t always the best. Overall, it’s not horrible, but it could be better.”

Morgan Snowden, a freshman musical theatre major, said the dining hall presents a shortcoming of healthy food for her to eat.

“There really aren’t that many options for me besides fish, and that’s only on occasion, or salad,” Snowden said. “There’s never any diversity with the salads, too. There’s always French fries, there’s always pizza. There’s never many healthy options.”

Kyle Kuhns, a freshman sports, arts and entertainment management major, said that the options in the dining are hit or miss.

“Some days the food looks and smells good, but other days it doesn’t look appetizing,” Kuhns said.

Kuhns also mentioned that the variety in the dining hall doesn’t really change.

“Other than the main courses in the comfort food station, everything is the same,” Kuhns said.

Over the winter break, students came back to a newly renovated Point Café. The overall reaction to the café has been positive with students noting that it is spacious and welcoming.

“I love the renovations and I think the dining service in general is nice, but I do think that it could be better in terms of the options,” Mballa said.

On Wed. Feb. 8, all students received an email forwarded from the Dean of Student Life Michael Gieseke stating the hours at the Spinning Salads station at the Point Café have been extended.

Paylo said the hours have been adjusted to fit the needs of students who might want a healthier option later at night.

“We do have a population, even within the conservatory of dancers, theatre majors and so on, and even non, that are conscious about what they’re eating,” Paylo said. “They don’t want burgers and fries at night; they wanted that salad option and they didn’t want pre-made, so the call was answered.”

Recently, in the Point Café, the issue of expired sodas being sold was brought to the attention of the United Student Government (USG).

“We are addressing every issue that comes about and we are doing everything we can, when appropriate, to solve it,” Paylo said. “As soon as we realized that there were expired sodas, they were removed immediately.”

Another issue surrounding the Point Café was regarding a new backpack policy being implemented but Paylo dispelled the rumors by saying at this current moment, the policy is not in place.

The policy would prevent students from entering the Point Café wearing a backpack. Paylo said the measure is being discussed because of the increased theft occurring in that area. However, Paylo said the majority of the violations came from the old layout of the cafe.

“Because of the nature of the way that it was set up, it was very easy to have a theft issue,” Paylo said. “We made the changes in order to rectify that issue, and we’re giving the opportunity to see if because of the set-up, things were out of control.”

With the installation of the storage system in the sitting area of the cafe, Paylo said the rumors of the backpack policy were spread even more.

“That was a miscommunication in the beginning that really caught fire,” Paylo said. “There were no policy changes. But I would be lying to you if I didn’t say we are considering a backpack policy moving forward once we get the opportunity to reassess the new format of the Point Café.”

Although both the dining hall and café have experienced growing pains, Paylo remains optimistic about the future, asking students for patience.

“It takes a good year for any new food organization to become a well-oiled machine,” Paylo said. “You have to live through the cycle of a year at a university. Even though the semesters are the same length of time, and people may argue that it’s just different months of the year, dynamics of those two semesters are so different.”

Paylo encourages students to provide constructive criticism regarding the new food service provider stating they need to find what works and what doesn’t.

“The feedback isn’t being ignored…” Paylo said. “Patience, please… Give us this year. You have to live through a whole year to find out what works and what doesn’t.”

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