Forum Increases Transparency Between Dining Services and Students

Lianna Brown ’22, News Editor

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, Student Senate held an open forum on dining services for all students with Director of Dining Services Errol Huffman.

Huffman showed a brief presentation that discussed the compost waste, the sources the dining hall uses to get their products, how much money is spent on the top 30 food items in the dining hall and the staff. He then allowed students to ask questions. 

When asked about the repetition of the boneless wing toss, Huffman explained that, “we know that there were issues with boneless chicken wings, and we wanted to put wings on the menu more since they’re not offered as much at the Quarry,” Huffman explained. He continued, that the chicken wings had been repeated three times in a cycle, which is a problem that Dining Services recognizes.  

Huffman explained that they are in the process of finalizing the menu for the Spring 2020 semester. He said he would like to send the menu to students, which may happen by sending the menu to Kevin, who will then share it with the senate and the student body.

Huffman discussed how dining services is working with the Center for Sustainability Education (CSE) to bring more plant-based products and meals, as well as fresh fruit, into the dining hall. He explained that the pasta bar was part of this initiative, as it offers a vegan and vegetarian alternative to what is being served on the line. He explained that another initiative to enhance plant-based meals is to try and lay the entrée line differently and realign the menu structure, so people eating in the dining hall know exactly what is being offered at what meals and on what days. Huffman said that dining services is also working with CSE to offer samplings outside the dining hall so people can try small portions of possible plant-based products. Huffman also highlighted Caf Hacks, which is an event that took place on Nov. 7. The event challenged students to create innovative, plant-based meals using products that are offered in the dining hall on a regular basis, “there are a lot more options than just the dozens of things offered on the line,” Huffman said. 

Sarah Ursini ’20 asked the possibility of making vegan options more accessible on the dining hall. Huffman said that it is “definitely on our radar […] we are working to add to and upscale the Quarry menu.” He said that it is definitely a possibility to increase vegan eating on campus, “I want to know specific ideas,” Huffman said. He explained an initiative he wants to begin called a “From Home” campaign, where students turn in recipes and ideas and then hopefully turn that into meals offered on campus. 

Elaina Clancy ’22 questioned the new specials being offered in the Snar. The initiative came from student athletes who were vocal about not being able to make it to the dining hall and have the time to eat a filling meal before it closed. The specials take highlighted meals that are offered in the dining hall and put them at the Snar for a lunch, dinner and late night special. However, Huffman said that only three people utilize the service. He said that the problem is that people do not know about it, and dining services was hoping that students would become aware of it by word of mouth, which seems to have failed. Clancy questioned if adding it to the kiosk would help students understand that it is being offered. 

Students in attendance reacted positively to Huffman’s presentation. Emily Pineo ’23 said that Huffman answered her question and said that it was a “great forum- they talked about a lot of great stuff- adding soymilk to the snar, having less meat in the caf, etc.” Ursini  continued that she is happy that Dining Services is working on ways to make vegan options accessible to students outside of the Snar. “I also like to know that the meat and animal products that are served are sourced locally/ from within the state,” she said.  Rosey Pasco ’22 appreciated how the open forum connected Dining Services with the student body. “Even though we have the ability to communicate through the iconic napkin board, sometimes it is hard to know if we are actually being heard,” she said.