What’s Cooking: Dining Services Roundtable, an Interview with the AUBG Canteen Manager

A combination of long queues and poor quality of food in AUBG's Canteen has resulted in a wave of disapproval from the student body. These concerns culminated in the regular Dining Service Roundtable. The event took place on Feb. 19 in the America for Bulgaria Student Center and featured active students, members of the student government, Olga Draganova – Dining Services Manager, and Todor Todorov – Director of Operations at AUBG.

Spring 2020 Dining Services Roundtable / Photo courtesy of Ruslan Noori

According to Todorov, the mandatory meal plan will remain an integral part of the contract that each student signs with the university, but other suggestions as to how the canteen could be improved will be taken into consideration. The Director of Operations at AUBG and Draganova  encouraged AUBG students to share their complaints, and also promised to deliver on some of the demands of the student body. However, the price of the meals will remain unchanged. According to Draganova, the prices are set by an authority higher than the canteen and are as low as possible for the time being. Todorov further explained the drastic difference between food costs both on and off campus with the university's certificate-and regulation-abiding policy, which in his opinion contrasts the gray economy prevalent across most businesses in Blagoevgrad. In addition to this, Todorov and Draganova concluded that the cost of canteen food is justifiable, saying that last year the canteen was in deficit. Despite the lack of change in the meal plan and cost, Todorov agreed to implement more vegetarian options, better hygiene, and more engagement with the community.

But what about the long queues in the canteen and how does the new computer program affect this? AUBG Daily sought further insight from Olga Draganova.

Miss Draganova, can you tell us more about the cash out system that the canteen has accommodated? How has it changed the way you serve customers?

It was a requirement of the National Revenue Agency of Bulgaria (NRA) towards us. The software controls not only the amount of sales, but also the expenses that these sales create. There are a lot of dining-related policies that are not necessitated by the American University in Bulgaria but by the national regulations and standards. One of the reasons behind the slower service is that when a transaction is made, the information about it is first sent to the NRA, which processes it and returns it back to the university. What is more, the purely physical act of entering purchases into the cash register can further hinder the canteen’s flow.

Olga Draganova in front of the canteen / Photo courtesy of Ruslan Noori


Meal plan or not - we reckon that the canteen will remain an integral dining option for countless hungry AUBG-ers. We ought to make the best of it and opportunities like the Dining Service Roundtable definitely give us food for thought. At the end of the day, like with most things in life, the best ingredient for any meal is a little bit of love.

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