SAGE reaches out to students through a survey and promotion of their app, Touch of SAGE
By advertising their app and sending out polls to the community, SAGE Dining Services, which provides the school’s dining experience, hopes to increase community feedback and respond to the varying opinions on the food.
The Touch of SAGE app is available to students, faculty parents and teachers through the Apple App Store. SAGE nationally launched the app in 2017 but SAGE at the school has recently been encouraging community use again. The app allows users to view the upcoming lunch menu, mark their favorite meals, view upcoming events and features and contact SAGE personnel with questions and feedback.
“I feel [the app] is a very vital piece of the puzzle to understanding what the community is enjoying and what needs to be changed,” Senior Food Service Director Rebecca Compton said. “My Executive Chef and I work hard to curate a menu that will be enjoyed by everyone. If there is a particular dish that people love or didn’t enjoy, that feedback is crucial so we can make changes.”
In addition to encouraging community members to download the app, SAGE sent out a survey in November for feedback on their services. SAGE has sent out surveys in the past, but they plan to continue these surveys regularly by sending them out every semester. The survey received 522 responses to their survey from students, faculty and parents. According to the survey, roughly 30 percent of respondents said they agree the food is fresh and flavorful, while roughly 45 percent of respondents remained neutral.
“Our survey is designed to see how the community feels about the menu, the dining hall, the staff, and the service, as well as if they’re enjoying the food we serve,” Compton said. “It helps us understand what we’re doing right and what changes to make if necessary. We want to hear your feedback, the good and bad, so that we can make the appropriate changes and satisfy our community. You are our customers, and you are very important to us.”
SAGE Dining is a national service that provides food to schools across the country. Many other private schools in Dallas, such as Ursuline Academy, Greenhill School, St. Mark’s School of Texas, The Hockaday School and Parish Episcopal School, use SAGE Dining Services as well. However, SAGE at each school is different and customized to community needs. For example, the survey asked for the community’s favorite cuisine, to which approximately forty five percent of students responded with American Cuisine.
“With SAGE, it’s a partnership so it’s our philosophy to be involved in the community,” Compton said. “But there is always room for growth. Our Team Members worked every home game, and we have been a part of several special events for the school. Last year, we did a lot of picnics. This year we worked with the student council to create a week of Student Favorites during Homecoming. Last week, we worked with French Club and Joumana Arraj for a French-inspired menu and cheese trays for her classes. We love going to Lower School and showing them different dishes like chocolate shakes, apple pie and Texas chili, to name a few.”
Students have varying opinions about the dining experience at ESD. According to a poll of — students, — percent of students dislike the school’s SAGE Dining.
“From what I’ve heard, many students don’t like SAGE because it gets old after years of eating it every day for lunch,” junior Sophia Ukeni said. “I understand that, but I think that if somebody doesn’t like the food, they can opt for other options like a salad or a sandwich.”
Faculty is provided meals from SAGE Dining as well. Science teacher John Gallo follows a low carb diet that cuts out refined sugar. Overall, Gallo has found SAGE has done a good job at meeting his dietary needs.
“I think the food is really good,” Gallo said. “I think it is healthy food. There is a good mix of different sorts of things and a lot of it is on the healthy side.”
Senior Sofia Sabella came to ESD in ninth grade, and has found, in comparison, the food SAGE provides is an improvement from the public school she used to attend.
“I feel like I am a lot more appreciative towards our food at SAGE, and I try to take advantage of having the salad bar,” Sabella said. “I also try not to complain as much because it certainly could be a lot worse. That being said, I have grown spoiled with SAGE and do find myself not always appreciating what I have.”
In the fall, senior Gia Maioriello met with Head of Upper School Henry Heil to propose improvements to school dining, such as purchasing new plates and updating the food heating system. As a result, Heil helped Maioriello establish the Food Council.
“I think [SAGE] is definitely implementing some of the changes,” Maioriello said. “At the next meeting we have, I will be sure to let [Compton] know what everyone thinks so far about it and what we still need to improve on.”
Alum Rachel Morrow ‘20, who attends Southern Methodist University, has found herself appreciating the food SAGE provided even more now that she eats meals at her college.
“Personally, I think SAGE is better than college food,” Morrow said. “With SAGE, we had so many options… whereas in college, the options are not as great. Also, the food doesn’t taste as good. I miss the panini machines.”
Sabella encourages students to express their appreciation for the SAGE employees. According to the poll sent out by SAGE, roughly 75 percent of respondents said they agree or strongly agree that SAGE employees make them feel welcome.
“[Students should] be nice to the SAGE employees,” Sabella said. “They are really great, and even just giving a smile and saying ‘hello’ can go a long way.”