SGA, Dining Services host discussion

Julie Balzarini

Students had a chance to ask questions and share their concerns with 11 Dining Services directors and managers on Oct. 6 in the Italian Kitchen.

SGA’s Concerns and Issues Committee partnered with Dining Services to host a Town Hall Meeting and provide this opportunity.

Tim Dietzler, director of Dining Services, opened the meeting by giving some background on changes made by Dining Services over the summer, particularly those impacting the Italian Kitchen and the Belle Air Terrace. Meal Plan Express meals are no longer accepted in Belle Air Terrace Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

According to Dietzler, around 4,500 students have meal plans.

“Every time we make a decision about whether or not you can use an MPE, we have to think about 4,500 students exercising that option,” Dietzler said. “That can get expensive.”

Dietzler also cites staffing as a reason for the new restrictions.

Dining Services wanted to offer more options than last year in Dougherty Hall as part of the renovation, and staffing was a major consideration.

Some of the staff from the Italian Kitchen and Connelly Center has been moved downstairs to the Dougherty Dining Hall.

Dining Services considered closing the Belle Air Terrace at 11 p.m., eliminating the popular Late Night option.

“Through feedback and discussion, we thought staying open between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. was more popular than staying open between 5 p.m. and 7p.m.,” Dietzler said.

In response to the inquiries regarding these new meal plan restrictions, Dietzler emphasized that the basis of the meal plan is for students to eat the majority of their meals in dining halls.

“That is really the value of the meal plan,” Dietzler said.

Afterwards, students were given the opportunity to ask Dietzler and the rest of the Dining Services directors and managers questions, and also comment on their experiences in the dining halls.

Several students brought up issues about the lack of prices on many items. One student found it frustrating that at à la carte locations they don’t find out about an extra charge for cheese or bread until they reach the register.

The Dining Services directors and managers assured students that they would resolve this issue.

Several students requested more vegan options, including desserts. Nutritionist Gail Gamble informed students that all of Dining Services’ vegetarian entrees and soups are actually vegan.

Students asked why MPEs are not available for use at the Holy Grounds in CEER at certain times. Dietzler explained that it is not feasible in such a small facility with little storage.

“Wherever we put MPE drives a lot of foot traffic,” Dietzler said. “It doesn’t exist in Falvey for the same reason.”

Students also expressed frustration over broken vending machines around campus.

One student said that some machines will often take cash only.

Dietzler promised this would be looked into and encouraged students to alert Dining Services if this should occur.

The last topic discussed was dining hall hours of operation on weekends. Several students expressed that they would like to see dining halls open earlier on weekend mornings.

The directors and managers discussed the possibility of an earlier continental breakfast at certain locations.