Student government serves concerns to CulinArt dining director


Photo by Alexander Popichak

Terry Chavara, director of dining for CulinArt, listens to student concerns from Matt Bauman at Monday’s USG meeting.

Written By Alexander Popichak, USG Beat Writer

Terry Chavara, Director of Dining for CulinArt, stood before the United Student Government (USG) Monday prepared to work with the governing body on improving the food service experience at Point Park.

Since becoming Point Park’s food service provider in August of 2016, CulinArt has faced scrutiny from students remarking on everything from the hours to the reusable takeout container program that was abandoned after one semester.

Chavara spoke as a representative for the food service provider and as a director on the front lines of implementing student-driven changes.

“My door is always open,” Chavara said. “I think at this point you should all have all of my contact information. I have to say thank you, it really has been a great year.”

With the school’s “We Proudly Brew” location still months away, CulinArt is responding to student requests by offering a breakfast version of its “Pop Up Cafe” to be held in the West Penn Lobby Feb. 8.

Megan Ortego, a freshman senator representing the conservatory of performing arts, asked about amending the limited weekend hours of the Point Cafe, citing the largest freshman class in recent years. Ortego said there are limited affordable options for on-campus students, and using flex dollars is their best option.

“I can honestly say that this concern has been brought around before,” Chavara said. “We do provide meal service on Saturday evenings. As much as the student body says they would like to be there, they just haven’t been there.”

The Point Cafe is currently open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 4 p.m. until midnight. Chavara said that CulinArt is open to changing the hours, but the changes wouldn’t take effect this semester.

Hayley Hoffman, president pro-tempore, brought up constituents’ concerns about not seeing their flex balance on receipts at the Point Cafe.

“We haven’t been able to figure that out on our system,” Chavara said. “[Students] can at any time ask and we can give them a balance right there at the register.”

Chavara explained CulinArt switched to a checkout system that was more reliable than its old system that had been crashing. While crashing is a less often occurrence, the food service provider has yet to figure out how to print students’ balances on the receipts.

Other concerns, such as the flatbread warming system in the Cafe, long lines at the Cafe and occasional ranch outages, are being actively addressed by CulinArt management.

Chavara reported that more student organizations are catering through CulinArt than in previous semesters, and attributed that to better advertising and an overall better relation with the student body than in previous semesters.

“Since we’ve put it out there for students to come,” Chavara said. “I’ve done way more work with the student groups on campus than in the past.”

When the Pittsburgh Playhouse opens this fall, CulinArt will be servicing its cafe and snack areas for patrons, performers and students. While the final plan is still in the works, Dean of Students Keith Paylo warned the legislative body there will be a learning curve with offerings and hours. Paylo sees opportunity in establishing a new student hub, and said “the idea is that there will be students everywhere [in the new Playhouse].”

The legislative body put forward no new business at its meeting, with each committee reporting on several in-progress projects. One such project, led by USG’s communication committee, aims to highlight and publicize discounts available to Point Park students. 

Vice President Kaylee Kearns, speaking for the executive cabinet, announced that senators Reba Bartram and Riley Frank are becoming senators-at-large due to scheduling conflicts. While still USG members, senators-at-large are non-voting members. According to the USG constitution, up to six senators-at-large may be appointed, and the parameters of the position are outlined by the serving USG president.

Dean Paylo informed the legislative body he had received the student activities fee distribution numbers Monday morning and will be speaking with USG treasurer Justin Stocklas about finalizing club allocations. The number was unknown until Friday’s student census.

Club budget appeals were due to the finance committee at the time of Monday’s meeting, and the finance committee will put forward the proposals next week.