1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY The college student market is currently influencing the expansion of university food services. Due to the dining unit options as well as increasing off campus competitors, college students are not tolerating poor quality of food served by university dining services. The college student market is currently influencing the development of institutional food service. To satisfy the basic nutritional needs of students, university and college food service operations need to deliver a variety of fresh, healthy and tasty food. Student food service is one of the competitive markets today, competing with other food service such as fast food and vending machines. Today’s college students are expecting more than the good food quality and nutritional value of the food they consume (Gramling et al., 2005). In addition, institutional food service operators need to keep up with the growing expectations of consumers about the overall dining experience. Thus, it is important for food service operators to fully recognize the wants of students and meet their needs.
The success of any food and beverage establishment lies in its ability to satisfy customers by providing a dining experience, comprising of both tangible and intangible elements and able to meet or exceed their expectations (Parasuraman et al., 1985; 1988). Students have expectations about the service they should receive from institutional food service and today they are more sophisticated and are exposed at an early age to variety of dining experiences including fast foods, ethnic cuisines and fine dining. These factors have influenced the attributes students use to evaluate institutional food service. To maintain participation levels and financial stability, school food service professionals should evaluate student’s satisfaction with food quality, variety and other variables