Quality and customer service key to Ball State Dining winning Ivy Award

Topic: Administrative

May 3, 2010

Fresh, custom-made meals made by culinary-trained chefs, dining workers making sure students with special diets and allergies are accommodated, and state-of-the art facilities to eat in are all factors contributing to Ball State Dining's recognition as a 2010 Ivy Award recipient. 

Marketing Coordinator of Dining Suzanne Clem said the Ivy Award is an impressive achievement in the food service industry. It is a competition among peers in the food service industry who nominate different institutions and chefs for quality and expertise. Past recipients of the Ivy Awards nominate the current year's contenders. 

Excellent customer service is just one area that helped Ball State earn its nomination. "For several years, we've run a departmental remarkable service award program, recognizing employees who exemplify extraordinary customer service, to encourage a culture of service in Dining," Clem said. 

Another area of expertise for Ball State Dining is providing the students with what they want to eat. "They asked a few years ago for more national brands - they wanted a Taco Bell and a Starbucks - so in the Student Center Tally, you can now get your chicken chalupa and your caramel macchiato," she added.

Ball State was the only recipient in the educational institutions category. Five others also received 2010 Ivy Awards, including "Top Chef" judge Tom Colicchio, who also owns Craft, a restaurant in New York City.

This is the first time Ball State has received an Ivy Award, but it's not the first time Dining has been nationally recognized.  Jon Lewis, director of dining, was food service director of the month in October 2009 for the magazine Food Service Director. The National Association for College and University Food Services (NACUFS) gave Ball State honorable mention in 2008 for the "Best in the Business" Campus Convenience Store Contest.  NACUFS also awarded Dining with third place in both 2007 and 2008 for the Most Innovative Nutrition Program. 

Lewis is elated by the Ivy Award.  "This is an honor that is based on an outstanding record of overall excellence and honors the department rather than the individual staff members," he said. "The Ivy is one of the industry's most prestigious awards given to those operations that meet the highest standards for food, hospitality, and service." 

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Ivy Awards, one of the longest standing and coveted awards in the food service industry. The awards were given out by Restaurants & Institutions magazine, which published its last issue in April.

By Samantha Irons

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