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BUDS and the Student Culinary Council Working Together

Written by Elaina Bonora, BUDS Editorial Intern

 

The Student Culinary Council (SCC) is a team of students who act as a liaison between the Binghamton University student body and Binghamton University Dining Services (BUDS); utilizing polls, questionnaires, and surveys to take students’ opinions into account to provide a general, holistic understanding of their wants and needs. BUDS has been partnering with the SCC since 2014 allowing us to collaborate on many different projects and initiatives.

Recently, we sat down with SCC President Maylin Vititow to talk about the partnership and her own experiences working with Dining Services; continue reading to hear what she had to say!

 

Can you tell us a little bit about what the SCC is?

"The SCC is a student-run group dedicated to improving the dining hall experience! We act as the voices of students to address a variety of topics, including special diets, sustainability, and nutritional health. Our goal is to make sure everyone with a presence on campus can find meals to fit their needs, tastes, and budgets. Whether it is bringing back an old favorite for NOWL (Nite Owl), or adding more halal food, we want all students to be able to walk into any of the dining halls knowing there are options available to them."

 

As a student, what does it mean to you to know that BUDS is listening to what students are saying and working to make changes to fit their wants and needs?

"To know that BUDS is listening to what students are saying means that our opinions are important; It means our experiences in the dining halls, both good and bad, are valid and worthy of discussion. I know many of my peers feel a large disconnect from those in charge of dining, and as a result, believe their concerns would not be considered valuable enough to bring up to administration. The SCC is unique in that it gives students the opportunity to work alongside the dining management team to make the changes that are most wanted and needed. I have witnessed first-hand the efforts administrators have made to prioritize students’ needs, and I am very proud to work with a team that works so diligently for the students of Binghamton. I hope for more of my peers to become aware of what bringing together management and student voices can offer them. I hope we can continue to broaden the scope of our discussions and provide more accommodation for those who need it."

 

Is there something in particular that the SCC and BUDS have collaborated on that has most impacted you?

"The project I have been most passionate about links to a long-standing goal of the SCC’s throughout the years I have been involved. The reason why I joined the SCC was because I follow a diet that does not include animal products, which can be difficult and limiting when one consistently eats on campus. Making sure special diets such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, halal, etc. are taken into account has been the SCC’s biggest focus this year. In our efforts to reach more students with special diets, the SCC has sent out surveys to students to see which areas of dining can be improved upon. We have also partnered with the BUDS’ on-campus dietitian, Alexa Schmidt, RD, CDN, to promote healthy eating through tabling events in the dining halls. We are already seeing stations across campus opening up, such as the vegan Garden Grill at Hinman and Grill 86: “Everything but the gluten” at CIW. BUDS has also released a “Residential Guide to Vegan/Vegetarian Dining” to guide those who are vegan or vegetarian, and we are working on a gluten-free version. We really encourage those with diets such as those I have mentioned to join the SCC so that we can continue to make progress like this! We have a vegan president and a vegetarian vice president right now. Making sure we continue to have a diverse e-board in this way allows us to stay aware of multiple cultures and styles of eating in our discussions with the administration."

 

What is it like to see BUDS implement ideas that are brought up at SCC meetings?

"It is extremely rewarding to know administration listens to the ideas brought up by the students of the SCC. To have a direct bond with those in charge where we can openly discuss how to improve the dining hall experience makes us feel as though our concerns and suggestions are important and necessary. In the past, we have brought up ideas such as incorporating Meatless Mondays and a non-disposable container system. It feels so fulfilling to walk into a dining hall and see stations catering to specific needs, or to see students walking out with an OZZI reusable container. To see the results of our collaborations come to fruition makes me extremely proud of my e-board; our accomplishments show just how much we will be able to do in the future, too!"

 

What does the collaboration process between the SCC and BUDS look like?

"The SCC e-board meets biweekly with administrators from the BUDS executive team, which usually entails those who manage dining throughout campus. We have the opportunity to speak with the social media and marketing coordinators to promote our initiatives. We are able to pitch ideas and discuss dining trends with BUDS managers and discuss how we can modernize our campus to match what is available in the food industry. With the campus executive chef, we can suggest additions to the current menus and offer insight as to what dishes students might like to see. We also have members of Auxiliary Services in attendance, whose insight is crucial due to their knowledge of how the University operates. We see a variety of students attend our meetings as well. If someone is looking for a space to voice specific concerns and ideas about their dining experience on campus, these meetings are the right place for them."

 

We appreciate Maylin taking the time to sit down with us to share her experiences as the SCC President and working with BUDS. Both BUDS and the SCC encourage students to attend these biweekly meetings and get involved with the SCC to share their voices. BUDS is incredibly grateful for the relationship that we have with the SCC, and we look forward to working with them for years to come!

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