Dining services announces new changes
In the past few weeks, Brandeis University Dining Services has announced numerous changes for the upcoming academic year, including meal plan revisions, physical renovations and the implementation of a customer service survey.
The meal plan revisions, announced in a campus-wide email last week sent by Student Union Vice President Charlotte Franco ’15, will include a more flexible meal-equivalency option that will allow students to use meals at additional locations such as “the Stein, Louis’ Deli and the Hoot Market,” according to Franco. The meal plans themselves are also being restructured, and next year’s offerings will include a 19, 15, 12 and 10 meal plan.
While members of the Class of 2018 who live on campus must choose from the above-mentioned meal plans, students in the Class of 2017 have additional options when making their decision. These include two “block plans,” which allow a fixed number of meals for the semester instead of each week; these are the 120 meal plan and the 80 meal plan. Students in the Class of 2016 who live in a residence hall with a kitchen are not required to select a meal plan but have the option if they so desire.
There will be two main areas of dining renovation over the summer: Sherman Dining Hall and the Einstein Bros. Bagels stand located in the Shapiro Campus Center.
Sherman Dining Hall will undergo a major renovation, according to Sodexo general manager Shawn Monaghan. In an interview with the Justice, Monaghan stated that both the dining area itself and kitchens would receive updates, with the goal of “creating a crisp, modern feel for Sherman” that is still “a unique dining location.”
When asked about the specifics of the changes, Vice President for Campus Operations James Gray told the Justice that “the interior will be updated and refreshed, some equipment will be changed and the service area will contain more ‘action stations,’ where the food is being prepared or finished for individual students as ordered.” Monaghan echoed these sentiments, telling the Justice that the current kitchen space is over 40 years old.
“Moving forward,” said Monaghan, “we’re putting in versatile equipment in the front of the house and back of the house that will allow us to respond to student needs. If students say that they want to see more Greek food, for example, we will have the equipment to support this.”
Einstein’s, located in the Shapiro Campus Center, will also undergo a major design overhaul. The main change will be that the storefront will be shifting 90 degrees in order to face outward towards the seating area and SCC Atrium and will be where the current entrance to the Bookstore is located. The current student seating area will also be filled with Bookstore merchandise racks while the bookstore is open, according to Gray.
In an e-mail interview to the Justice, Gray also explained that the seating areas displaced by this change would move to the Atrium and occupy the space facing the Faculty Club lawn.
According to Monaghan, this change was prompted so that the Bookstore could operate without a Dining Services presence required, since Dining Services has the keys to the metal grate that can bar the way to the Bookstore and Einstein’s.
Monaghan further stated that “it makes more sense for the Bookstore to be independent of Dining Services” and that this would enable the bookstore to engage in events without the presence of Dining Services personnel to unlock the space.
A dining survey was also sent out to the student body two weeks ago, in which students were asked to give feedback on a variety of dining locations around campus.
According to Monaghan, student feedback is an important step in Sodexo’s decision-making process. “We heard the students loud and clear in the fall,” said Monaghan in regard to past feedback. “And we want to get an understanding of what’s important to the students.”
Monaghan added that survey questions were designed to elicit a variety of responses, such as what additional types of food students would like to see in the future and where on campus students feel their meal plans are best being utilized.
“If a student takes the time to write a response [on the survey], they’re passionate about it,” he said, “and that’s important to us.”