UDS offers new meal options for residence halls

Lacey Crisp

Krispy Kreme donuts, organic coffee and kosher foods are three new items served by the University Dining Services this year.

Each year, thousands of students move into the dorms and one major concern is the cafeteria food. This year’s residents will have a number of new possibilities to choose from.

“We typically change our menus based on a rotation of venues, and survey data and the preference of students,” said UDS Director Larry Weger.

Each residence hall will now have a specialty. Pioneer Hall will specialize in grilling and deli menus. Middlebrook Hall will offer vegan and vegetarian meals.

“Changes to meal plans are a rather challenging process,” Weger said. “Economic feasibility is key.”

Linda Brady, a University professor of nutrition, said she hopes students will take advantage of all the new programs UDS is offering. Because each hall has specialties, the closest hall may not have what students want.

“I think it is nice that UDS can give students the choices,” Brady said. “The question is if students want to walk to go to the meal choice they want.”

Brady said she has UDS administrators talk to her classes a few times every semester, and she knows how hard they work to have something for everyone.

“They are trying,” Brady said. “We couldn’t ask for more in terms of UDS listening to students.”

She said because of financial constraints, UDS cannot give every student what they want, but they still try to have a variety of foods.

“If students participate in and give feedback about the new programs that would encourage UDS to have more of those programs,” Brady said.

Students such as University sophomore Liz Myers think the changes sound like a good deal.

“The food starts out good, and then goes downhill,” Myers said.

Myers, a Centennial Hall resident, chose the smallest meal plan because she did not care for the food.

“I would walk to another dorm if they offered the food I liked,” Myers said.

Students can now order Grab & Go lunches online at the UDS Web site and pick them up at several locations, including UDS convenience stores. Convenience store hours have been extended, so they now open at 7 a.m. instead of 5 p.m.

UDS has also remodeled the Pioneer Hall cafeteria.

Despite the renovations and new menus, the prices of meal plans won’t change that much, Weger said.

“Prices are evaluated on an annual basis,” Weger said. “We try to be as competitive as possible, so students won’t be seeing a huge increase in pricing.”

UDS officials put together the kosher meals with the Hillel Jewish Student Center. Amy Olson, Hillel’s executive director, said she was “very excited” about the changes.

“I really want to give kudos to the dining services for making this available to the students,” Olson said.

Olson said she has been working with UDS for the past two years to make it possible for students to remain kosher while living in residence halls.

“There are only a small number of students that are kosher,” Olson said. “That may be because they did not have that option when they lived in the residence halls.”

Olson said because students are required to have a meal plan when they live in the dorms, students who kept kosher needed more options.

Centennial resident Ashley Kaestner said the specialty cafeterias are a good idea in theory, but she doesn’t think they are very practical.

“I wouldn’t walk to another cafeteria to get a specific food,” Kaestner said.

She said although she did not mind the food, the new foods would be a welcome change. “It’s not bad food, but there’s only so much pizza I can eat,” Kaestner said.