By Molly Igoe
While students were away on break, the dining hall staff was hard at work implementing major changes to Hodson’s physical layout, food, and meal plan options.
One of the most notable differences is with the meal plans. Director of Dining Services Don Stanwick discussed some of the challenges they faced with the new plans.
“Right now, for this year, all the meal plans are available as they were last year, which includes the 14 and 19 traditional/advantage plans. Because we talked so much about the new meal plans, we are rolling out a couple for returning students,” he said.
The 220 block plan, which includes 220 meals in Hodson and $400 in Dining Dollars to be used downstairs at Java George, Create, and Martha’s, and the 180 plan, which is 180 meals in Hodson and $500 Dining Dollars, are the two new plans available this semester. The 250 plan, with 250 meals in Hodson and $300 Dining Dollars, and the 150 plan, with 150 meals in Hodson and $600 Dining Dollars, will be available spring semester.
Meal periods in Hodson have also been eliminated.
“Before, if you came in at 11 a.m. and then again at 1 p.m., you would be charged for that second meal, even if you’re using a meal swipe,” Stanwick said. What we’re doing now is, if you come in at 11 a.m. and then come back at 1 p.m., you can still use your meal swipe. If you’re on the 14 or the 19 plan, you’re only limited to three meal swipes a day. With the block plans, you can use 20 a day if you want to, but you’re just going to run out in 10 days. So, people are going to want to balance that if they choose the block plan.”
Starting next year, there are going to be freshman mandatory meal plans with only a few plans to choose from.
“We know how different it is from being at home, so we want to guarantee you have enough meals to get through your first semester, and once you’ve gotten through that semester, other plans will open up. About 85 percent of colleges across the board that we looked at have a freshman mandatory meal plan,” Stanwick said.
According to Stanwick, the Micromart that is replacing Sophie’s Cafe is scheduled to open on the first day of classes, Aug. 28, and possibly even before that, on Aug. 27, during the campus picnic. To start, it won’t be open 24 hours a day, but only during library hours. He said, “Unfortunately, the Micromart doesn’t take Dining Dollars yet, only cash or credit card.”
Stanwick said, “Obviously we’ve made a lot of changes, and took a lot of feedback. So far, with some of the returning students, we’ve heard good reports about the changes. A lot of people like the look of the building, and clearly, there’s going to be some getting used to the alarms on the exit doors, just to protect people’s belongings. The other thing we’re going to be big on is people taking dishes out of the building. We are going to be stringent about bringing to-go boxes.”
There are more changes coming to food in the dining hall. There is going to be a customizable pasta bar at night; rotisseries going throughout the day; a vegan/vegetarian station; and more televisions, which are available for students to use for club advertisements.
“Students have told us they want more customizable food, so we’re making smaller batches, so there’s not a lot of premade food already done. I ask for a little bit of patience, as we’re still working out some kinks, just to get our timing down during these first few weeks,” Stanwick said.
“My door is always open; if people have problems or concerns, please come see me. We want to continue to work with students and make things better. We’re going to keep food committee meetings, especially because we’re renovating downstairs for Christmas. I encourage people to get involved with dining services and our food committees, because we want this program to be for students.”