Shane Powers helps accom­modate student needs. Shane Powers | Courtesy.

Shane Powers, Bon Appétit’s new account support manager, takes stu­dents’ food con­cerns per­sonally.

Powers often walks around the dining hall during meal­times, asking stu­dents about their expe­rience and if he can do any­thing to make it better.

“That’s actually a per­sonal thing of mine,” Powers said. “I take great pride in the food that we serve. If I serve you the food, but don’t come out and actually talk to you, the food could be bad if I don’t get feedback.”

Powers, in his fifth year with Bon Appétit, came to campus to make sure Hillsdale’s food service is meeting the company’s new guide­lines. Powers has also aided Bon Appétit in pre­senting stu­dents with new veg­e­tarian, gluten-free, and non-dairy options. He has opened several Bon Appétit loca­tions around the country, but his primary work is based at Albion College, a small liberal arts college about 40 minutes north of Hillsdale.

“We have certain stan­dards and expec­ta­tions to achieve,” Powers said. “We use a program to make sure every­thing is uniform and con­sistent at all our loca­tions.”

Expec­ta­tions range any­where from the number of pro­teins and top­pings at the salad bar to ensuring a certain amount of dairy-free options at each meal.

To start, Bon Appétit intro­duced the new Market area as vegan and dairy-free. The “Market” now fea­tures many dif­ferent types of beans, veg­etables, and grains that weren’t offered before.

“We’re filling a need for certain vegan and veg­e­tarian stu­dents as well as those with dietary restric­tions,” Powers said. “A part of the student pop­u­lation wanted that service, and we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from stu­dents that have that need.”

Sophomore Caleb Ramette is one of the stu­dents whose dietary needs Bon Appétit has met.

Ramette said that starting this year, Powers has helped streamline his com­mu­ni­cation with Bon Appétit.

“When I met him for the first time, he imme­di­ately intro­duced me to the new chefs and we talked about how we could work together,” he said.

Every meal, he meets with a chef to figure out which spe­cific foods are okay for him to eat. “I met Shane for the first time and he imme­di­ately agreed to help me in any way pos­sible,” Ramette said. “I see him almost every day in the dining hall and he always asks if he can do any­thing to improve the dining expe­rience.”

Powers also helps freshman Eliz­abeth Hughes with her dietary restric­tions. A week before coming to Hillsdale, Hughes found out she was allergic to dairy and eggs.

“Shane has said ‘hi’ to me everyday and made sure I have every­thing I need,” she said. “He’s offered to cook me special foods in case I can’t have any­thing that the cafe­teria offers.”

Hughes explained that even foods like veg­etables and meat often have butter or dairy in the sauces.

“Some­times they’ll take some veg­etables or meat out for me specif­i­cally. He’s given me access to special sec­tions in the cafe­teria for people with dietary needs,” she said. “I really enjoy also knowing him. It makes me feel taken care of. I’m not just another face.”

Powers said the best part of his job was leaving the kitchen to talk with the stu­dents.

“I’d actually like to spend more time in the dining room talking to stu­dents and staff about how every­thing is than any­thing else,” he said. “That’s how I meet the stu­dents and get to know them.”

Since Powers has been at Albion, he came up with ideas to make their finals week less stressful.

“During midterms, I drive around in a golf cart from 8 p.m. to mid­night and give out coffee and hot chocolate.”

Powers said he’s been working on a couple of projects at Hillsdale, too. He hinted at a trivia night: “like getting Charger cash for answering ques­tions at a meal service.”

Over the past few weeks, Powers said he’s gotten to know some groups of stu­dents pretty well, par­tic­u­larly the women’s vol­leyball team.

“By being out there with them I get to know the team,” Powers said. “Their coach just put them on this restricted meal plan a couple weeks ago. I didn’t know that, so I baked them three dozen chocolate chip cookies and brought it out to the table. But the day before the game they’re not allowed to have any extra sweets.”

Powers spends about an hour during each meal talking to stu­dents about their expe­rience. The rest of the time he helps out around the kitchen, making sure every­thing goes smoothly.

“My job is to make sure that every aspect is running right. I make sure the dish room is running good, the staff is doing good, make sure the food is nice in pre­sen­tation, make sure we’re not running out of things.”

Powers said that every­thing he does from expanding food variety to baking cookies for the vol­leyball team is for the stu­dents.

“I like inter­acting with the stu­dents a lot. Ulti­mately, they’re the ones that are paying me, and I’m there to make sure they’re happy. That’s my job.”