Lance Thornton, the Director of Dining Services, plans to install menu and meal plan changes as time and money permit.
Many future changes are a result of the Dining Services survey emailed in February to students, faculty and staff members. The changes include serving student-grown produce from the greenhouse, adding more “grab and go” items to the dining room, and opening the much-anticipated convenience store.
The newest addition to Dining Services is the Baby Greens Program, headed by sophomore Austin Kingsbery. Kingsbery is working to harvest salad greens in the Science Center’s greenhouse to be served to students.
The program will debut today during either lunch or dinner as a “test drive,” Kingsbery said. The greens will be marked with a special Baby Greens logo.
Kingsbery said the program originated from conversations between Biology professor Mike Rechlin and Trey McCartt, Assistant Director of Dining Services. Kingsbery said the issue was that the greenhouse was essentially without a purpose, and Rechlin wanted to find one.
“[It] wasn’t serving as the tool it was designed to be, so we cleaned it out a good portion,” Kingsbery said. He used the extra space to plant the Five Star Greenhouse Lettuce Mix from local company Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
Kingsbery wrote the proposal for this program on March 12 and returned to campus a week early to begin planting. He said that once the program gets going, students can expect fresh greenhouse lettuce every two weeks.
The next time students can expect to be served Baby Greens lettuce is in their “Sizzlin’ Salads” on May 7.
Thornton said he plans to present the survey results and his subsequent plans to the campus in an open meeting “in the very near future.”
During this presentation, Thornton will also award prizes related to completion of the survey: a Nintendo Wii for the house with the highest percentage of survey responses and two gift certificates to the College Bookstore valued at $25 and $50, awarded to randomly selected students who completed the survey.
“We highly encourage customer feedback through comments on our website and the comment board in the serving room,” said Thornton. He explained that the survey was a way to further investigate community members’ opinions about Dining Services.
Roughly one-third of the student body completed the survey along with 56 staff members, 25 faculty members, and two administrators. Thornton said he is waiting until the all-campus meeting to unveil the results of the survey.
He did reveal, however, that he will be implementing smaller scale changes as time goes on. One of the main purposes for his survey, Thornton said, was to see if there was a better meal plan for students. If there is one, students can expect the change in their meal plans to coincide with the switch to semesters.
One option for a future meal plan could be all-you-can-eat, all the time, said Thornton. But he said he is ultimately searching for a solution that is economical and right for students.
“We want to make as many people happy as we can,” Thornton said. One way he plans to make students happy is by opening the convenience store this quarter.
He said the tentative plan is to have a grand opening May 5. The store will be in the old Student Government Office next to the Pub, and will undergo minor renovations before opening, Thornton explained.
Thornton said that meal cards will be accepted as payment in the convenience store.
“I want it to be an additional and true service,” Thornton said. “The goal is to make it convenient.”
Thornton has asked student government to make a list of items to keep in stock. He said the store will carry drinks, snacks and refrigerated items that can be heated in the store or taken back to houses. Bulk items such as gallons of milk and cartons of eggs will also be available as well as fresh produce.
While the store’s hours have yet to be nailed down, Thornton said the store will be staffed by students and that Dining Services will try to keep it open during hours that other food options are not available.