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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

Senate hears presentation from Campus Dining

Campus dining representatives presented to student senate Wednesday regarding the continuing changes to the campus dining experience.

Chris Abayasinghe, the senior director of campus dining, announced the dining options that will open in the new Duncan Student Center in January.

The restaurants in the student center will be Haggerty Cafe, featuring Intelligentsia coffee, Freshens smoothies and crepes, the Modern Market, offering artisan pizzas and farm-to-fork food and Star Ginger, serving Vietnamese, Thai and Southeast Asian food. The hours of operation will vary restaurant to restaurant with late night weekend hours offered by Haggerty Cafe and Star Ginger.

“We want to live in the space,” Abayasinghe said. “While I’m saying that these are the hours and ideas that we’re floating around, this isn’t etched in stone. This can change.”

Director of student dining Scott Kachmarik updated the group on past and upcoming changes to the dining halls.

“I am hearing a lot of excitement about the new restaurants that are going in,” Kachmarik said. “I’m trying to make sure that we understand that the dining halls could become a destination restaurant as well.”

Kachmarik explained that the changes that have been implemented this semester, such as the increase in flex points, the option to enter the dining hall multiple times in one mealtime and the five complementary RSVP meals, have all been a result of past student feedback.

“You see some of the things that we’ve done in North Dining Hall, with the booths and the different seating arrangements,” Kachmarik said. “We want it to be a place where you can come and feel comfortable, but at the same time we’re also working on the issue of speed. We’ve made some changes that, if you need to be able to run in and run out, we can get that going as well.”

Kachmarik said he has heard negative feedback about the substitution of the Marketplace for Grab and Go at North Dining Hall this semester. Campus dining introduced the Marketplace based on previous student feedback questioning the value proposition of meal swipes used at Grab and Go.

“However, as we look ahead to next semester, we heard you,” Kachmarik said. "We’re going to be offering some type of a Grab and Go in the North Dining Hall Marketplace. What we’re planning on doing is having many of the items that are in the South Dining Hall Grab and Go. We’ll have those labeled in a cooler and will allow you to get your seven points and allow you to get that with your meal tap.”

Further upcoming changes include beginning to use the video boards in North Dining Hall to display nutrition facts, extending dining hall hours on days at the end of breaks to account for later returns to campus and offering hot breakfast beginning at 8 a.m. on the weekend before finals.

Abayasinghe hopes to improve the sustainability of the dining operations.

“Our vision for how we want to look at food is to look at it in a really holistic fashion,” Abayasinghe said. “We want to make sure that the options we provide you are nutritious and healthy, that they’re environmentally sustainable, that they also align very closely with the social and ethical values that I hold for myself and my team and, naturally, it has to be delicious, it has to be culinary-relevant and have cultural appeal.”

Campus Dining directors are currently working on a plan to provide students with re-useable to-go containers, a program which they plan to pilot at the Marketplace, and are discussing applying a “sin” tax to disposable containers, Abayasinghe said.

Both North and South Dining Hall now use a red running man icon to denote food options that nutritionists have confirmed to be healthy.

“We worked with Student Affairs and we worked with the athletic department about developing a menu that increases your ability to perform at a high level,” Kachmarik said.

However, with the many changes to Campus Dining this semester, there seems to be a lack of knowledge about the meal plans and hours of operation among the student body, Claire Saltzman, the Ryan Hall senator, said.

In response, Kachmarik acknowledged that Campus Dining needs to improve in this regard.

“That’s something I think we need to work on,” Kachmarik said. “We’re doing a better job of telling our story, but I also think we’re not doing a very good job of telling what you need to know.”