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Student Feedback Influences Dining Services Changes

Later hours at Warren, more menu options

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You spoke and Dining Services listened. The Warren Towers dining hall has extended its dinner service to 10 p.m. from Monday to Thursday.

The one-hour extension is in response to student feedback from last year’s Dining Services annual fall dining survey, says Dining Services marketing director Scott Rosario. Many students take classes from 6 to 9 p.m. during the week and wanted later hours so they could eat after class was over.

It’s a change that Melissa Hollis (CAS’19) welcomes. “It was frustrating when I had a lot of homework to do and I had to rush to get the dining hall before it closed,” says Hollis, who was taking advantage of Warren’s expanded service on a recent Wednesday with a late night pasta dish.

The extended hour is popular with new students as well. “Back home, I would always get back from sports late, so it’s nice to be able to eat late here, too,” says Sebastian Salas-Betsch (SED’20). “It’s easy to get lost in work and not pay attention to the time. Often it’s around 9 or 10 p.m. when you realize that, and you can still come down and get that last-minute burrito.”

Rosario says that depending on future student feedback, extended hours could be introduced at other campus dining halls. He encourages students who want later hours elsewhere to voice their opinion in the fall survey. (Students will get an email when this fall’s survey becomes available.)

Another upgrade to Warren’s dining hall is the return of the make-it-yourself Mongolian grill station. The new and improved station includes a cold-well with different starches, vegetables, protein, and sauces. Students create their own bowl, hand it to the chef for stir frying, and receive a personalized, made-to-order meal.

Once again, student voices were behind the change. “Students liked the customization—that was part of feedback,” Rosario says. “We were really responding to that.”

Since Dining Services special dim sum days, introduced two years ago, have been especially popular, new items are being introduced, and to create more buzz and and make it more special, they will be held monthly, rather than weekly.

“Our goal is to have more excitement around the event so that it doesn’t become just another part of the menu, but something exciting and a fun experience in the dining rooms on the weekend,” Rosario says.

In response to another student request, Dining Services is now accepting all major credit cards at the George Sherman Union, as has been the case at all other campus residential and retail dining locations.

For those on the go, Rhetty to Go meals have been updated to offer a variety of entrées beyond the basic salad, sandwich, or wrap options. New items include a pork stir fry with vegetables over white rice and a vegan tofu broccoli lasagna roll with marinara and green beans. And ordering on the Rhetty to Go website has been made easier for those with special dietary needs.

Perhaps most exciting are Dining Services’ continuing efforts to address sustainability. Earlier this month, its annual sustainability report announced that 23 percent of the food served last year was sustainable, surpassing the original goal of 20 percent sustainable food by 2018. The new goal: 25 percent sustainable food by 2020. But as Rosario notes, it’s not an easy challenge to meet. “In New England, there’s a much shorter growing season,” he says. “It’s not always easy to purchase sustainably, especially the quantity we need. Basically it’s a lot of partners and a lot of help.”

Dining Services has also made changes to the weekly farmers market it sponsors each Thursday through the end of October outside the GSU. New vendors include Farmhouse Burger Company, responsible for “reinventing the vegetable burger,” Urban Kitchen Handmade, an Allston-based company that sells soaps, soy candles, and other personal care products, and Steem Peanut Butter, which offers a caffeinated take on the classic.

The new vendors were added, Rosario says, because of students’ continuing commitment to sustainable living. “Students are always interested in purchasing local, organic, and sustainable, and that helps guide what we do. We want to have more than produce. We want to have other great local things to really make it an experience.”

The Warren Towers dining hall is open Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. All residential and retail dining locations on campus now accept credit cards. The next dim sum day is Sunday, September 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Marciano Commons. The BU farmer’s market is held on the GSU Plaza from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Thursday through October.

Kylie Obermeier can be reached at kylieko@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @kyliekobermeier.

3 Comments

3 Comments on Student Feedback Influences Dining Services Changes

  • Elisabeth on 09.20.2016 at 2:50 pm

    The Rhetty to Go site where you order does not show any of these new options. When do you think they will be available to order?

    • Marc Robillard on 09.20.2016 at 4:55 pm

      Thank you for noticing this. We are updating the Rhetty-to-Go site and the new items should appear by the end of this week.

      • Elisabeth on 09.20.2016 at 6:09 pm

        Thank you for your reply! I look forward to trying the new items.

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