UR Dining Services and the Danforth Dining Center recently changed as part of the “Real Food on Campus” program, an ARAMARK project also started at more than 30 universities and colleges.

Other changes, more specific to UR, were made over the winter break, including the addition of the Meliora Express and block combos at the Pit in Wilson Commons.

“The people here seem to be working as fast as they can,” Julian Barone, a Monroe Community College student eating at Danforth Dining Center, said.

The RFoC program resulted from ARAMARK surveys and focus groups conducted at different schools around the country, including UR. The intended goal of the program is twofold — both to deliver more individualized food to students and to make campus dining facilities more inviting.

One of the features that ARAMARK considers crucial is bringing cooks out into the serving area, instead of “hiding in the kitchen behind the big stainless steel walls,” according to an article by ARAMARK’s District Marketing Director Mike Stawicki.

Until Feb. 14, prices have been lowered for meals at Danforth, the focal point of the RFoC program.

For those paying cash or from declining and Flex accounts, the prices will be $9 for dinner and only $6 for lunch.

This lowered price, combined with new services, has led to an increased demand for food from Danforth.

The cafeteria served an average of 500 people for dinner each night during the first semester, but had 800 or more customers most nights since it reopened on Jan. 12.

Lines to get in have stretched well into the outside hall and lines in the serving area have also been longer since students returned.

“You always have to wait for quality,” Danforth Manager Kevin Fuchs said.

On one busy night last week, senior Angie Lowell said that she “just gave up and got pizza.”

Lines have been longer than 10 minutes at many stations and as long as 30 minutes at the grill station.

Fuchs said that he and the Danforth staff are already seeking solutions. A new system for managing trays and silverware, introduced on Jan. 16, has kept Danforth from running out of these items since that date.

According to Christopher Coleman, ARAMARK’s Resident District Manager for UR, what he has heard from students is “a ton of positive feedback.” Most of these comments were about improved food quality. A group of UR administrators were also introduced to the new Danforth on Jan. 16 and were impressed by the changes.

“[The food’s] a lot better than last year,” senior Laura Marden said.In response to student requests in the first week, the quesadilla station that was eliminated with the program is open again.

Seven hundred forty-seven people attended the Grand Opening of Danforth on Tuesday night. Regional Executive Chef Scott Zahren was brought in to help with the event. He is one of several ARAMARK chefs coming to UR to help with training. Fuchs said that the celebration went without any problems.

Students were impressed with the menu, though most did not know the event was going to occur before they arrived. “I was surprised to see the waitress walking around [carrying samples], that was kind of nice,” freshman Dan Chu said.

“Lots of people don’t give Danforth a chance and this is their opportunity,” senior Dave Ditch said.

Crowds at the Meliora have grown over the last few months. To counter this, the Meliora Express opened this month in Douglass Food Court. The food served at the Meliora Express is cooked at the same time and in the same kitchens as the food served in the Meliora itself.

“It’s kind of like doing a catering event every day,” Director of the Meliora and Catering Sharon Greco said.

Instead of offering carryout dining at the Meliora, the restaurant’s dining room is now open only to sit-down dining. A hostess now seats all patrons, and the lack of carryout customers “gives the Meliora a much different feel and ambience,” Coleman said.

“It’s a lot slower up here,” Meliora Restaurant Supervisor Jennifer Penfound said of the upstairs Meliora.

The separate locations have not caused a significant change in the number of total Meliora customers. The Meliora Express does offer longer hours, opening at 11 a.m. instead of the main restaurant’s 11:30 a.m. opening time.

Staff members were shuffled between the Meliora and other dining centers, and also within the restaurant.

Greco said that, in the end, the Meliora added three new positions. She also said that they were looking for student bussers, a position that has been restored with the changes.

Instead of relying on the meal equivalency of dining plan blocks, students may soon be able to use blocks at all dining centers in similar ways to those used at Danforth.

Each station at Douglass and the Pit will soon have block combos, which specify meal and drink combinations that will trade directly for a block. Several are already available in the Pit. This approach is intended to make the block a more valuable meal plan option, and is expected to speed up service at Douglass and the Pit.

“I can become more efficient [at the register], especially when there’s a line,” Pit cashier Dawn Marshall-Hosier said. She also pointed out that the new combos tend to be healthier than the old grill combos, which were mostly hamburgers, fries and similar foods. Rachel Nemeth, Manager of Douglass, said that these block combos would be available “in the very near future.”

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