Liberty dining receives top 5 ranking
Liberty University’s dining program stands out once again among college dining programs across the nation, ranking as the fifth best dining program, according to the Daily Meal.
Due to the variety of dining options, students have the opportunity to dine at the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall and 23 other dining locations on campus.
The dining program, run by Sodexo, was also judged on the sustainability of the program. Through the ranking, Liberty showcased its use of locally-grown produce purchased through Cavalier Produce of Charlottesville. Cavalier Produce provides in-season produce from a 50-mile radius that is served at all dining locations.
To ensure the program continues to advance, a senior team from Sodexo tours the entire country every year, visiting other college dining programs. From this, they are able to compare Liberty’s dining program to other universities in hopes of making the program better. The made-to-order sushi bar and the make-your-own pasta station were additions influenced by the tour.
According to Ryan Wheeler, the marketing manager for Sodexo, the culinary team is sent out to receive training each year to ensure they are equipped to do the best they can for the dining program. The Sodexo team believes that investing into the chefs gives students a good return on the money they spend for dining.
“Our team wants to continue putting out the best quality we can,” Wheeler said. “Our chefs are passionate about what we do.”
A major focus for the Sodexo team is to have chefs be on the front lines serving the food directly to the students and making relationships with them. Their hope in creating more open food bars where students can see their food being made is it to have barriers broken down between chef and student.
According to Wheeler, the team is always looking for ways to invest back into the program and enhance the student dining experience.
“Every year there is some kind of remodel, so we can continue investing in the infrastructure of the dining program,” Wheeler said.
Liberty’s partnership with Healthy America ensures the dining program is maintaining healthy standards at all dining locations. The campus dietitian, Rachel Sanders, is passionate for the dining program to meet these healthy standards by providing several well-balanced options.
The Sodexo team also values the feedback they receive from students. Wheeler said most changes that happen each year comes from the yearly surveys. Senior management staff members also have meetings with residential assistants and sit in on Student Government Association town hall meetings to discuss valuable changes that can be made to the dining program.
“Students have to eat it every day, and we want to make it the best possible,” Wheeler said.