Choice is a principle of good customer service. University Dining Services works hard to offer customers as much variety as possible, allowing the customer to make choices on the food and beverage they will consume.
A few years ago the Minnesota Student Association requested that UDS offer Fair Trade coffee. UDS met with student leadership and collaborated on a plan. It was agreed that UDS would serve only Fair Trade coffee in the residential dining halls, and today we continue to honor that request.
In all of the retail locations, it was agreed that UDS would offer Fair Trade coffee as a choice, if it were available from the supplier. Since, the availability of Fair Trade coffee on campus has increased greatly. The coffee venue in the art school, serves exclusively EcoGrounds Coffee varieties that include 100 percent organic, fair trade, bird-friendly, shade grown and rainforest alliance certified. The dining service at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum serves EcoGrounds as well. The M Deli in Coffman Union serves Peace Coffee, also 100 percent Fair Trade. This coffee is delivered by bicycle. Essentials, Outside In, Terrace Café, Sullivan Café, Java City in Moos Tower, the Continuing Education and Conference Center, and the Wise Owl Café all offer Fair Trade coffee. UDS is in the process of adding Fair Trade to The Cup in Williamson Hall and at the Carlson School of Management.
There are 10 retail venues offering Fair Trade coffee. These venues account for about 25 percent of the total coffee sales. Some venues serve less than 3 percent Fair Trade while Starbucks at Coffman serves about 38 percent Fair Trade. UDS pays on average 23 percent more for Fair Trade coffee. Because it is only about 25 percent of the total campus coffee sales, that price difference is not passed on to the consumer. If UDS were to serve 100 percent Fair Trade coffee, there would be a price difference to customers.
UDS has been responsive to campus issues. Hours of service have expanded appreciably over the past five years. The question of cage-free eggs was voted on by the Residential Hall Association and voted down in that context. UDS is continuing to explore cage-free egg options for the retail operations. FlexDine options continue to be expanded. UDS will continue to offer customers a choice.
Leslie Bowman is University Dining Services director of contract services. Please send comments to [email protected]