Dining offers extended hours, healthier options
If you’ve ever wondered how much sugar is in that smoothie you just ordered or wished you could buy fresh produce right on campus, you’re in luck this semester.
Carnegie Mellon Dining Services will offer extended hours, expanded menu options, furniture additions, new events, and other changes at numerous dining locations this semester.
According to Director of Dining Services Pascal Petter, the changes have been in the works since last September. While some alterations were vendor-driven, the vast majority of changes are the direct result of student feedback gathered online, in person, and at Student Senate and Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) meetings.
Highlights include a campus nutrition app, strict kosher dining options, weekly farmers markets in Resnik eatery, late-night hours at Carnegie Mellon Café, and now-available breakfast blocks at Tazza D’Oro.
According to Petter, previous semesters have seen “a need for campus to have some more locations open.”
Some locations will open earlier to provide options for earlier risers, while some will stay open later or open on the weekends to further accommodate student demand.
The Carnegie Mellon Café is now open until 2 a.m. every day of the week, and starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
After discussions between Dining Services and the vendor, the Exchange will be 8 a.m.–8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m.–6 p.m on Friday.
The Exchange will also be open 9:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. on Saturday, when previously there were no weekend hours.
In the Marketplace on the second floor of the Jared L. Cohon University Center (CUC), Petter responded to student demand to see the more dinner-friendly eating options open later.
The City Grill, Pasta Villagio, Evgefstos, and Spinning Salads will stay open until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, while the remaining locations will close at the original 4 p.m. time.
The Underground is now open at 8:30 a.m. daily, including weekends, and stays open until midnight.
Expanded Menu Options
Petter also introduced a series of changes to expand students’ eating choices, accommodate dietary restrictions, and help vendors better adapt their dining options to student meal plans.
In the CUC Marketplace, Dining Services will introduce a new rice bowl concept, which will be among the locations open until 8 p.m. on weekdays.
Meanwhile, The Spice It Up Grill in Resnik will offer yakisoba noodles to appeal to the significant proportion of the student body that comes to campus from Asia, Petter said.
Tazza D’Oro now offers breakfast blocks to accommodate students on meal plans. “I think that will be very popular,” Petter said.
Vegetarian station Evgestos will offer new flatbread pizzas and superfood smoothies, which are both fruit- and vegetable-based. Finally, La Prima Espresso in Wean Hall will add new desserts, pastries, and chocolates to the menu.
Strict Kosher Options
Petter also collaborated with students from Hillel and the Jewish Community Center to accommodate orthodox Jewish students with strict dietary restrictions. The process underwent a pilot test in the spring and is launching now.
Dining Services had previously introduced kosher eatery The Pomegranate in the CUC, but even those food items are not prepared according to the strictest guidelines.
As an alternative for students who keep a strict kosher diet, students can order their meals online using their meal blocks at https://web.campusservices.cmu.edu/dining/kosher/. Those meals will be prepared offsite at Murray Avenue Grill and transported to campus for pickup.
Green Food Waste Practices
In order to institute green practices in food waste management, Dining Services has partnered with a web-based food waste tracking system.
According to Petter, CulinArt employees will weigh discarded food before disposing of it to track food waste.
The system will take pictures of food waste for CulinArt and Dining Services to analyze.
Through this analysis, Petter hopes to better understand what students aren’t eating and how to cut back on their food waste.
Dining Services has also introduced a nutrition app to grant students easy access to complete nutrition information. The website version is available at cmu.mynutritioncalculator.net.
The app provides the same comprehensive information as a nutrition label on a food item, including potential allergens. According to Petter, the process is “as simple as clicking on a meal period or a food group.”
The app also features a search tool that allows students to navigate campus dining options according to their dietary restrictions or preferences. Students looking for low-sodium meals or avoiding certain allergens can evaluate their options via the app.
Another new dining option will be monthly bistro nights at Schatz Dining Room, which will offer full-service table linens and give students a taste of a fine dining experience. Petter also worked to bring the highly popular farmer’s markets to campus more frequently.
While previous farmers markets were held in the CUC lobby on a monthly basis, they will now occur weekly in the Worlds of Flavor section of the Resnik eatery.
Dining Services has also introduced all new furniture in the Carnegie Mellon Café and the Cruciform and Doha rooms in the Resnik eatery.
The renovations are designed to facilitate student learning and collaboration, according to Petter. The larger seating options will allow students to study or work in groups while they eat.
Reception and Future Changes
Petter presented a summary of the changes to a group of resident assistants and orientation counselors on Aug. 15 and received instantaneous student feedback.
“It was well received,” Petter said. “I wouldn’t say standing ovation, but there was a lot of cheering and a lot of clapping.”
While this semester’s changes are numerous, Petter said, “It doesn’t mean that more changes are not coming.”
Petter and other dining services staff members will be tabling in the CUC lobby today, tomorrow, and Wednesday to answer questions and receive feedback about the modifications.
Petter will also continue holding meetings with Student Senate and the GSA, where much of the initial feedback originated, and hearing from students at monthly Dining Services Advisory Council sessions.
“A big part of my role is to continuously look for ways to improve and evolve our dining program,” Petter said. “I anticipate more changes to come.”