Opinion | Market is on the path to improvement

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Opinion | Market is on the path to improvement

Miranda Zito | Staff Illustrator

Miranda Zito | Staff Illustrator

Miranda Zito | Staff Illustrator

By Josh Beylinson, Staff Columnist

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Market Central has often been at the receiving end of many student complaints, even before the cafeteria was cited for 14 healthcode violations last October. A quick Google search shows Market has 2.8 stars out of 5 on Google reviews, with many reviewers lamenting the quality of the food specifically.

Pitt Dining has been listening to these complaints and is making deliberate changes to Market Central’s operations, according to Pitt spokesperson Kevin Zwick. They admit that they still have many more changes to make, but they’ve done a lot to improve the dining hall quality conditions since the last semester — certainly enough to warrant a second chance.

Students should be open-minded and give Market another try, rather than writing it off immediately.

 

While Market Central is located on Pitt’s campus, it is managed and staffed by Sodexo — a contractor that runs cafeterias in college campuses across the United States. Pitt ultimately has the final say as to whether Sodexo is allowed to stay on campus and run the dining hall.

In response to the complaints, Pitt and Sodexo have tried to change the image of Market Central and accommodate students more, according to Zwick.

“Pitt’s dedicated Food Safety and Nutrition team is committed to food quality and safety…led by dining services director Joe Beaman who brings extensive food service operations experience to the University, ensuring Pitt follows industry-standard best practices across all areas of food quality and safety with Sodexo,” Zwick said in an email.

In an interview, Beaman provided some insight into the changes and improvements coming to Market Central. Beaman said he is cognisant of the health reports that came out last year and is dedicated to changing the health conditions at Market, especially when it comes to food safety regulations and work structure. 

“I think the culture really has changed,” he said.

Beaman said Pitt is exploring inviting a third party to perform additional inspections on the food and state of the cafeteria. This would be in addition to weekly inspections performed by Sodexo supervisors and Beaman himself.

Along with this, Sodexo has hired two new full-time employees — a food safety manager and a food safety coordinator, whose jobs will focus solely on food safety and inspections at Pitt. Sodexo has also increased the amount of supervisors and employees that go through ServSafe — a sanitation certification intended mainly for managers through the National Restaurant Association — which is the largest certification program in the country.

Beyond food, Pitt has also put in some effort to make Market Central seem more welcoming and accessible to more students. In an August article detailing all of the recent updates, the University Times recounted several recent renovations made to Market Central, including new lighting and a new paint job. 

Sodexo also rolled out two new food booths for this year — Mindful and Simple Servings. Both may have generic names, but the aim of the two booths is to provide healthier and allergen-free options to students. The booths also have a seasonal menu, so there will be different options for students concerned about their health throughout the year.

Zwick also said Bella Trattoria will soon be introducing more food options, such as calzones and hoagie-style sandwiches. He also said there will be new burger products made with fresh ground beef and mushrooms to reduce calories in a healthy way, along with additions to the pasta station. A lot of these changes came from student complaints and recommendations, Zwick said.

“We’re really looking at, how do we elevate Market to the next level?” he said.

Pitt plans to continue updating Market’s food with better ingredients and more interesting options. This is a huge step forward. Students should give the dining hall a fair chance to make changes and respond to feedback. If students continuously write Market off, then everyone loses out.

Until the next health report comes, we won’t know for sure if the quality of the food has increased substantially, but according to these new changes, there is reason to be optimistic, as long as Pitt and Sodexo keep up this positive trend.

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