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By Rachael Myer
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 31, 1998

Students, officials differ on food variety at Park Student Union

Despite complaints about food selection and service, Park Student Union officials say they are trying to fulfill the desires of the 1,400 people who eat there each day.

The Union serves pizza, tacos, chicken, sandwiches, pasta and salad, but students say it just isn't enough.

"You can only eat pizza and pasta for so many days," said theater arts freshman Kelly Molloy. "That is how it is all over campus. Low-fat choices would be nice to avoid the 'Freshman 15,'" she said, referring to the weight some freshmen gain when they first come to college.

But Dining Services Division Manager Kathleen Noble Van Os said students are not paying attention to the variety of food and healthy choices available at the Park Union.

She said the Park Union offers vegetarian lasagna, a vegetable sandwich and vegetables at the salad bar.

Noble Van Os said she does respond to complaints brought to her attention, and Union officials are puzzling over what else they can do to make diners happy as they implement more food choices and increase operating hours.

"We are lucky if we sell 20 orders of vegetables a meal, period," Noble Van Os said. "We try to pay attention to the special needs of the students. We try to balance what the majority of customers want."

Park Place Convenience Store, Domino's Pizza, Chick-Fil-A, Sausage Deli, Taco Bell Express, Grill Works, It's Italian, Country Corner and a salad bar are located at the Park Union. Those restaurants account for about 12.5 percent of University of Arizona's Dining Services' total revenue.

Sausage Deli and Chick-Fil-A, which franchised in January 1994, and Taco Bell, which franchised in November 1996, have become an integral part of the Union, Noble Van Os said.

Not all students, however, are pleased with the franchises.

"I don't like it because if there was a cafeteria there would be a better selection," said undeclared freshman Suzanne Dezelan. "I was sick of the food after a month."

"We are not a high school cafeteria," Noble Van Os said. "We run our facilities similar to a company and try to keep our prices down to not lose that market."

The Park Union has tried to comply with students' requests by adding pork chops, a waffle bar and changing its hours to open 30 minutes earlier.

A mix of faculty, staff and students eat lunch at the Park Union, and many residents of the three neighboring residence halls - Kaibab-Huachuca, Arizona-Sonora and Coronado - eat dinner there.

"I live in Arizona-Sonora so Park Student Union is convenient for me," said computer engineering freshman Sean Curley.

Noble Van Os said customers who have complaints can write a message and leave it with a cashier or call her.

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