Virginia Tech is consistently ranked among the top universities in providing its students with the very best in dining options. One important way they make that happen is keeping in touch with student preferences and needs.

Virginia Tech's Office of Housing and Dining Services has created a variety of customer service programs, including: satisfaction surveys, which allow students to rate their preferences online; a customer advocate, who personally assists students with their needs; a Mystery Shopper program, which places students in the dining centers to observe and record customer satisfaction; a Student Advisory Committee, made up of students who provide feedback and ideas; quality control surveys; website information and links; and Table Talk Live sessions.

Every semester, students voice their ideas and suggestions at more than a dozen Table Talk Live sessions.

"These sessions provide a great opportunity for our dining staff to answer questions about our facilities, food and service, but most importantly, to find out what students like," said Rick Johnson, director of housing and dining services. "It is a great pleasure for us to facilitate this kind of face-to-face communication with our customers."

The following improvements and additions are new as a direct result of fall 2004 Table Talk Live comments and suggestions.

In Shultz Express, students will now find Belgium waffles, soup-to-go, coffee on the breakfast bar as a beverage of choice, novelty ice creams, Ritz Bits™ crackers and Chips Ahoy™ cookies.

Shultz Dining Center now offers a baked potato bar, hamburger and hot dog station, and nacho bar two nights a week.

West End Market has added tiramisu, southwest chicken salad, a rib eye sandwich, croissants at Leaf and Ladle for use with the tuna salad and shrimp and chicken salads. On Sunday nights, West End Market is now open until 8 p.m.

At Deet's Place, they now have Wally's Biscotti™, blueberry and raspberry scones, premium chocolate milk, apple juice, a rotating sandwich menu as well as a standard Deet's croissant sandwich, white tea, and an extended line of tea offerings.

DXpress presents its own personal pan pizzas, chicken tenders, corn dog nuggets, ice cream novelties and soup-to-go.

D2Go now features premium entrees. D2 newly features rotating vegan and vegetarian selections in Olives, rotating Pan Asia selections, decaf tea, balsamic vinegar, Splenda™, more dessert selections in La Patisserie and a variety of hot grilled sandwiches at Gauchos. As a pilot program for spring semester, D2's service hours have been extended to 2 p.m. at lunchtime. And, as popularly requested, the 12 oz. water cups and lids in all the dining centers have been replaced with 16 oz. cups and lids.

For a schedule of the spring 2005 Table Talk Live sessions, go to http://www.studentprograms.vt.edu/dining/table_talk_live.php.