May 11, 2007

Cafeterias roll out improvement plan

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New menu items are among the additions and improvements going on at VUMC cafeterias. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Cafeterias roll out improvement plan

Results of a recently completed customer survey are the driving force behind ongoing efforts to improve menus and service layouts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center cafeterias.

The survey followed on the heels of a VUMC partnership agreement with Philadelphia-based food services giant Aramark Corp. to provide patient and cafeteria food service at the Medical Center. VUMC's 215 hourly food service employees remain on the Vanderbilt payroll.

The cafeteria enhancements planned for the near future include:

• reorganizing the entry and exit at Courtyard Café to provide quicker service;

• a new cash register system to speed transactions and allow acceptance of credit and debit cards;

• a refreshed menu rotation that includes foods from the survey results;

• more foods prepared at new cooking stations at Courtyard Café;

• sushi, at both Courtyard Café and Vandy Café at Children's Hospital;

• salad bar enhancements;

• a made-to-order sandwich station; and

• enhancements to the condiment station.

“Vanderbilt Medical Center is a dynamic community with ever-changing needs,” said Larry Goldberg, CEO of Vanderbilt University Hospital. “This survey was part of an overall study we are sponsoring as part of our partnership with Aramark in order to define the future of dining at VUMC.

“Over the next several weeks and months, Medical Center community members will begin to see many improvements shaped by their feedback from the recent survey.”

The survey also touched on possibilities for more long-term changes, including expanding dining services beyond current locations.

“We want to be sure that we understand the needs of our health care staff, patients, and visitors, and that we are prepared to meet current and future needs as the Medical Center evolves,” said Assistant Hospital Director George DeLong.

“Some changes we make will be more dramatic than others, but we want everyone to know that we're listening and not only responding, but being proactive in providing the best environment and highest levels of satisfaction.”

The majority of the survey's approximately 6,000 respondents were Medical Center employees, with modest representation from patients and visitors.

“As our overall study proceeds, additional targeted research will be conducted to pinpoint the specific needs for patients and visitors,” said Nutrition Services Director Edmund Chan, who is part of a four-member management team employed by Aramark. The study will include more surveys, focus discussions, traffic analyses, and collaboration with the Medical Center and the overall community.

Question 12 on the recent survey asked respondents to rate their preferences for 18 cafeteria menu items, from “barbeque” to “smoothies” to “vegan.” Among the 18 items, sushi was the top preference of respondents.

“The preference for sushi surprised us, but also fit into comments we've heard about providing more healthy choices. We will be offering sushi, as well as other more culturally diverse choices, because that is what our customers indicated they wanted,” Chan said.