Last week, in response to an Culture article about the best and worst of campus food, Director of Campus Dining Services Cameron Schauf asked if he could talk to the Campus Times to discuss what’s new. Every year, Dining goes through changes, tweaking old practices and trying new things, but after a year of mostly take-out, Dining has reoriented itself for an in-person fall semester.
One of the major changes that took place over the summer was closing Douglass on the weekends. In lieu of Douglass brunch, students can Grubhub Kosher meals on Sundays or head to Danforth dining hall on the weekend. According to Schauf, this transition was made as many students said they missed brunch at Danforth. The choice to keep the Kosher station open only on Sundays was made because it’s closed for the Sabbath from sundown on Friday through Saturday.
Other changes include increasing the number of made-to-order items such as salads and broth bowls at Danforth. In the Pit, the mac-and-cheese bar has moved to Pizza Pi, the salad bar is back, and Pizza Pi, Sol Bowl, and Wok On Up have some new menu items. One such item? A vegan chocolate shake (Sol Bowl). Behind the scenes, Dining has started a new partnership with GoodHealthy Farms to restock greens at Danforth, Douglass, the Pit, and Hillside. Overall, the goal is to provide students with what Schauf called “fresh produce at better prices,” with all produce arriving within 48 hours of picking.
Dining Team Green, a student-led group within Dining Services, implemented the selling of Westside Farmers Market tokens at Hillside this past June, where students can buy five-dollar tokens to use at the market, which can be purchased with declining, URos, or cash. The market, which happens on Genesee Street, is about a 15-minute walk from campus into the 19th Ward. Westside Farmers Market will run until Oct. 12 from 4-7 p.m. every day. In addition, the market is also offering a special college night on Sept. 7 where students can receive a free market coupon, reusable bag, and raffle tickets upon showing their school ID.
Previously located in the Pit as a pop-up restaurant, Roots & Shoots is replacing Optikale in Goergen Hall and is offering a variety of mainly vegan meals. According to Schauf, Dining Services is planning to pilot a new post-consumer composting program at Roots & Shoots in hopes of reaching a University-wide scale in the future starting Sept. 1. This program will ensure all food and containers to be compostable, which means everything thrown directly into a bin will be taken to a compost center.
Connections Cafe is also making strides in composting, as all of the plastic offered there is now compostable. There are no more bottled beverages, and all sandwiches are served in paper bags instead of plastic containers. The cafe is also offering a “draft-style” kombucha bar serving fresh kombucha on tap from the Rochester-based kombucha company, Katboocha.
Food pop-ups from last semester are also here to stay this semester after their previous success. Schauf said that Dining Services “wanted to do something fun for students in a safe way” during the pandemic and found that the dining pop-ups are a great way to “break the monotony for students.” He also mentioned that UR’s pastry chef Mina Rivazfar-Hoyt (as seen on Food Network’s “Holiday Wars!”) is an avid supporter of the pop-ups and plans to help keep them running throughout this new semester. Keep tabs on @uofrdining on Instagram or save this calendar to know when the next pop-up is.
Overall, Schauf stressed that Dining’s main goals are to cut back on waste and provide the freshest and most local ingredients possible. Currently, Schauf said 64% of their money goes towards companies that produce or grow in New York State. He emphasized that Dining wants to create and keep jobs in Rochester, especially for smaller businesses.
“The closer the food is to Rochester, the better,” Schauf said.