Murray State named best university dining program in Kentucky

Murray State dining services were named best in Kentucky by USA Today. Jenny Rohl/TheNews

Story by Sydney Anthony, Contributing writer

Murray State was named the best university dining program in Kentucky this year by USA Today using Niche Rankings.

Paula Amols, director of Dining Services, said much of Dining Services’ success is because of the chefs’ skills and the ability to change what is being served based on students opinions.

Amols said when she began almost five years ago certain dining options did not have managers overseeing operations. Amols said she now has a manager present any time a dining facility is open — even during late night — to ensure quality food is always served.

Murray State dining services were named best in Kentucky by USA Today. Jenny Rohl/TheNews

Murray State dining services were named best in Kentucky by USA Today. Jenny Rohl/TheNews

She said she has worked to ensure all staff is well trained for scratch cooking, which she said makes up 80 percent of the food served to students, to ensure that it is appetizing.

Morgan Newell, freshman from Clarksville, Tennessee, was surprised at the 80 percent. She said she thought only about 40 percent was made from scratch.

Amols said student feedback also attributes to the success of Dining Services.

She said students are able to give feedback at the Dinning Forum that meets every other Tuesday in the Hart Café.

Amols said through these forums the changes students want are being heard.

She said supportive administrators allow dinning staff to make decisions regarding the food efficiently and effectively also allows the dinning staff to be successful with changes.

Julie Danhauer, senior from Owensboro, Kentucky, was surprised at this ranking but she said she enjoys the Thoroughbred Room.

However, she said she enjoys the special dinners in Winslow, such as the Lambert’s Café dinner.

Amols said in the past Dining Services achieved high Niche ratings and won the President’s Award, Southern Region from The National Association of College and University Food Service.  

“Murray set records for sponsorship, and set records for attendance even though Murray has been the smallest school that has hosted The National Association of College and University Food Service,” Amols said.

Amols said there are plans to expand Murray State’s Dining Services but said they have no plans to outsource. She said money has been set aside to expand Fast Track and Winslow, however, no expansion has been done at this time.