Alumni-ran Chartwells strives to serve quality product
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
An alumni-run student food service organization aims to bring food quality and safety to Southeast, though complaints are often raised by dissatisfied students.
Chartwells Dining Services, the food service and catering provider, is a national chain serving university campuses throughout the country.
The Arrow reached out students on the Living at Southeast Facebook page to learn more about the overall student experience with Chartwells’ food service. Though many had encountered negative experiences with the food service, others were more positive.
Southeast’s branch is run by two Southeast alumni who put a focus on student engagement and feedback to deliver the best quality product.
Matt Ludwig, who started as a student worker for Chartwells in 2006, was appointed to district manager in November.
“We want to make sure guests get a good and safe meal,” Ludwig said. “Food safety, I would say, is the number one priority [along with] customer satisfaction.”
Ludwig said his goal for the company is to get a Center of Excellence certification from its parent company Compass Groups, setting Southeast’s branch as one of the “best of the best” in the nation.
“We try to go above and beyond,” Ludwig said. “I think that comes from being students here; we really want this account to be the account that shines.”
Chartwells Director of Marketing Alicia Ticer, who has held the position since September 2016, said her role with Chartwells makes her feel like part of the Southeast family.
“We have a great relationship with the university and we’re very proud to be at this account,” Ticer said. “When you’re on campus every day, it still feels like you are a student sometimes and it’s awesome.”
Ticer said it is critical for Chartwells to garner student feedback to help the directors understand what the student body thinks.
Ticer said Southeast’s branch scored a 3.67 out of 5 on overall satisfaction, which she said ranks “well above” the national Chartwells average.
When serving 7,000 to 9,000 people a day, there is always the possibility for a mixed bag of reviews and chances to make mistakes.
Daniel Wallace, a junior advertising major, said he believes Chartwells “has gone out of their way to fix whatever was wrong” when complaints arise.
“When you take into account how many people Chartwells feeds a day on this campus, it’s not surprising that there is going to be mishaps,” Southeast junior Dougie Gray told the Arrow in a Facebook comment.
Southeast junior Sydney Hill said she had a fly crawl out of her food once at Chartwells.
Despite the mixed reviews, Ludwig still believes Chartwells is serving a quality product, and the only way to get better is to look at the product and learn.
Southeast junior Ashley Wagner praised Chartwells breakfast at Towers on Living at Southeast, and was thankful for the work the cooks put in early in the morning every day.
Student Ashley Wagner believes that breakfast at Towers deserves more recognition.
“We reevaluate every year what we can do to do better,” Ludwig said. “I feel year in, year out we really try to just make sure that every student, regardless of whether they graduated last year [or] three years ago, had a good meal and experience here.”
Chartwells recently introduced their Text2Chat program “to share feedback instantly with the directors of our dining programs.”
According to Ticer, students can send feedback about Chartwells service for all food locations in the University Center and Houck’s place to (573) 837-1144, food locations for St. Vincent’s Commons to (918) 534-8773, and all other food locations to (620) 702-5070.