Creating a New Dining Experience

By Jack Hunt
Elm Staff Writer

Washington College’s Dining Services underwent a few significant changes over the summer in response to student feedback on the quality of the program.

The most noticeable change is the new system of self-service at the hot bars in the dining hall. Previously students stood in line to be served by an employee of the Dining Hall now students are free to choose how much food they put on their plates. The system, according to Zena Maggiti, director of Dining Services, is “student-driven.”

The idea of self-service was not new to the list of suggested changes to the dining hall format. The idea was first brought up 18 months ago at a meeting of the directors of the Dining Services. Until recently, the possibility had been ruled out because of the potential for wasted food and wasted profit. However, feedback from students continually brought self-service back to the fore in the discussion of how to improve the quality of the Dining Services.

Mondo’s  has been replaced by the new dining option Create, which offers a cheaper sandwhich value meal.
Mondo’s has been replaced by the new dining option Create, which offers a cheaper sandwhich value meal.

In pursuit of some hard evidence in the debate Maggiti contacted other institutions similar to the size of WC. After researching the issue, she discovered that self-service would waste less food and less profit. “We’re tracking all of this right now, our numbers are tracking. Compared to last year we are producing less and wasting less,” she said. If the new system continues its current success the change will most likely be permanent.

Other changes to the dining hall include more options in the yogurt bar and an increase in the number of condiments in the area surrounding My Pantry. The staff has also begun to use smaller serving vessels to ensure that the food is fresher. For instance, they no longer use steel hotel pans to hold the pasta sauces at the pizza bar. Instead, they use pots and a heated plate to keep the sauces warm.  Because there are no staff members serving food, there are more of them available to make the food, to restock utensils, and refill food vessels throughout the Hall.

On the first floor of Hodson Hall, there has been one major change in the dining services outlets. A new sandwich shop called Create has replaced the old fixture known as Mondo’s Subs. This was also due to feedback from students.

In a survey issued by Dining Services to all faculty and students, the main component that students wanted to change about Mondo’s was the overall value of the meal exchange. Students wanted a better deal for their $5, in the sense that they wanted more meal-combo options than simply the daily special. As with the upper dining level, there were calls for a greater variety of options and for better food quality. The freshness of the food was frequently brought up in the category of things that needed to be improved.

Create has a menu that offers new sandwich choices and healthier side items, such as fruits and vegetables. There are now more combo meals available for less than $5. Java George and the Miller Café have also revived their menus somewhat, with the addition of fresh baked bagels to the list of offerings.

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