Several changes have seemed to dominate the dining experience on campus this year. Due to complaints, Dining Services responded to the students’ pleas with an open Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday. In attendance were Director of Dining and Auxiliary Services Cam Schauf, Guest Services Manager Dave Feist and the managers of the individual dining halls.
“After hearing your feedback, we got together and decided to make a list of all the upcoming changes we’ll be making,” Feist said.
These changes will come into effect on Monday, Sept. 24. The first changes to be made pertain to club meals. Students returned to school to find 24-ounce beverages and six-ounce yogurts were no longer club options. Furthermore, several popular entres, like burritos in Douglass Dining Center and 16-ounce soup in the Pit, could no longer be clubbed.
To rectify the situation, Dining Services is revoking many of these changes. In the Pit, students can now club a 16-ounce soup as an entre and a 12-ounce soup as a side. Also, 24-ounce fountain drinks will return as part of a club meal. In Douglass, burritos will be an entre option for club meals and wraps are being added to the self-serve Salad Garden.
“Beginning Monday, bagels and cereal will return to the Pit. Cereal cups or a bagel with a cream cheese packet will be an entre option for club meals,” Feist said.
While this solves the lack of breakfast foods in the Pit, it does not fix the timing. Since the Pit does not open until 10:30 a.m., breakfast is still a problem. Students were concerned that with hectic morning schedules, there was not a feasible option for breakfast on the River Campus.
A toaster is going to be put in the Pit, but it will not be available for use until 10:30 a.m. Dining Services is looking into opening the front section of the Pit for early risers and adding paper plates and silverware to Danforth, so it can become a more accessible place to grab food and go.
Another issue raised was the length of the lines.
“We are filling multiple open positions to have cashiers at the additional registers during peak service times,” Feist said.
Training and hiring students has delayed the efficiency of Starbucks, but it is not just the lines that annoy students; it is the limits.
“We liked having the extra options of dining. Two coffee places (Starbucks and Pura Vida) were added but no extra place to get a full meal. We liked having full meal options, which is why we have such long lines at the dining halls now,” President of the Class of 2010 and sophomore Eric Weissmann commented.
“The problem is that we have no space for that,” Schauf said. “We lost a lunch option and we have not found a way to replace that yet. We are trying to open Connections – we thought [by the] fall, [but] it won’t be done until early November. It will be more of a lunch option, but not a full one.”
Schauf also explained how changing Starbucks is difficult due to their unique standards, but noted it may eventually expand to include sandwiches and snacks.
The vegetarian and vegan communities have been affected as well. Sides, such as carrots, are well stocked this year, and the Vegan Zone in Douglass is providing a vegan option for lunch and dinner. Furthermore, Danforth is serving one steamed vegetable for lunch and dinner starting Monday. Despite these aspects, which students see as positive, vegetarians complain that there is no longer an egg white or egg beater option in Danforth.
Another concern students raised was the overuse of oil and butter substitutes. Dining Services is looking into better options for oils.
The loss of the Meliora Express has greatly impacted students’ eating habits. Students say that what they loved about the Mel Express was the variety. Dining Services’ stance is that the Mel Express was never meant to be a permanent dining option, due to its double function as the Hive.
Connections will help fill this void. The name derives from the fact that Dining Services has been networking for the past year in an effort to use local products, from small farms to local roasters, to improve Rochester businesses.
“In the past, we have designed a menu and then gone out to get the food. Now, we reversed that. We found good food and are building a menu,” Schauf said. Connections will have bagels, salads and sandwiches.
The meeting emphasized that Dining Services does hear the students’ opinions. The representatives said that future renovations are in the works, including opening up the Pit, renovating Danforth and adding a bigger market in Douglass.
Dining rules are not set in stone, and Schauf wants students to know they are heard.
“I hope people understand that we are very open to student feedback,” Schauf said. “I think we’ve addressed the majority of the issues that students brought to our attention. I just hope we have happy people.”
Schneier is a member of the class of 2011.