Mmm, tastes like … Minnesota

Lynne Kozarek

Call it Spam-chic. Never before has Minnesota’s most famous processed-meat product featured so prominently on the menus at Coffman Memorial Union. But never before has University Food Services taken on a project as daunting as restructuring its image.
On September 23 Food Services opened its new food venues to students and staff members. The University has signed contracts with such Minnesota companies as Hormel, Pillsbury and Land o’ Lakes to provide the staple ingredients for Food Services’ new menus.
Kevin Fuery, Food Services area retail manager, said the new contracts are keeping with the “Minnesota concept” of the new food service venues and University 2000, University President Nils Hasselmo’s restructuring plan for the University.
“One of the U2000 goals is to support Minnesota companies,” Fuery said. “By using companies like Hormel and Land o’ Lakes we’re supporting U2000 goals.”
Fuery said the new venues follow the Minnesota concept planned by Food Services.
Stores like Portage Market and North Woods Pizza have taken over the formerly University-theme stores like Goldy’s and Little Brown Jug in Coffman Union.
Food Services has also included a food court with international selections, including Chinese and Greek food.
Marlene Fossum, a Food Services employee who works in the Two City Cafe, said she enjoys the changes and was glad to see that Asian food was offered.
“There are more choices, more decorating and more support from the staff,” Fossum said. “I’ve had a little feedback, and people seem to like it.”
Fuery said Coffman Union is the only building on campus affected by the changes to date but that alterations are planned for the St. Paul campus and the West Bank.
He said though the new venues are not yet using the U Card, Food Services might soon begin to do so.
The U Card would make Food Services more accessible, Fuery said, “It’s down the road … maybe within the next year.”
It is too early to tell whether the changes at Coffman Union have increased business, he said, but the response from the students seems to be favorable.
Sara Ericson, a College of Liberal Arts sophomore, said she had frequented Coffman Union last year and has noticed the changes this year.
“I noticed the new name,” Ericson said, “and I noticed that they’re open a lot more. I think it’s a pretty good idea to have fruit and coffee more available.”
Students’ most common complaint is the price of the food.
Diana Carey, a pre-business junior working at Coffman Union’s information desk, said students have commented on the food being very expensive.
“Most people say they want a franchise in here,” said Carey. “They would rather eat cheap at McDonald’s.”