Meal Plan Changes Slated for 2017-18

By Amy Rudolph
Elm Staff Writer
Each month, Dining Services gives Washington College students a unique opportunity to voice their opinions about proposed ideas and changes to the dining hall through the WC Food Committee. Director of Dining Services Don Stanwick and Catering Services give participating students the chance to enjoy a family-style, sit down meal, and have their voices heard.
This month’s dinner took place on March 29 in Hynson Lounge and the discussion revolved around approved changes to the dining plans, future plans for Sophie’s Cafe, ideas and proposed alterations for Create and Java George, and new additions to Hodson Dining Hall.
The meal plans will no longer follow the weekly allotment plan that has been in place for  a number of years. The new plans only account for the amount of meals a student receives for the entire semester. With the new GET software replacing Manage My ID, students will still be able to check the amount of Dining Dollars that they have for the semester.
The College has decided to increase each student’s Dining Dollar allotment and remove the meal exchange system entirely so students no longer have to wait for the dining hall to close in order to fully enjoy retail options like Martha’s Kitchen and Create.
The new unlimited meal plan is expected to be very similar to the current one. It will feature unlimited swipes in the dining hall in addition to $100 in Dining Dollars. The new 250 Block Plan will include 250 meals for strictly dining hall usage and $300 in Dining Dollars. The 220 Block Plan will allow for 220 Dining Hall meals and $400 in Dining Dollars; this most similarly mirrors the Traditional 19 plan currently in place. Freshmen will be required to purchase the 220 Block Plan and it will be the default plan for upperclassmen. The 180 Block Plan includes 180 meal swipes and $500 in Dining Dollars. The 150 Block Plan includes 150 meal swipes and $600 in Dining Dollars.
Now that meal plans will operate on a semester basis rather than a weekly one, students will no longer have to worry about losing meals week-to-week.
“I appreciate the flexibility of it all. Even though I am a freshman, I am very busy, so that was a huge problem for me last semester; being so busy and having my meals go to waste,” Arianna Hall said.
For those students who will be spending less time on campus, whether it be for Chesapeake Semester or because they commute, there will be specialized plans. Every student meal plan, including the Chesapeake and Commuter Plans, will include five guest passes.
Students who do not have a meal plan will be able to purchase a door pass. The door rates will increase next semester to keep up with competitive market prices. The prices will depend on the age of the customer and the time and day of service.
In the dining hall itself, the changes will vary from the food, to the atmosphere, and the structure of the building.
According to Stanwick, “[the dining hall] lost almost $30,000 this year by people jumping in for free. That is almost tuition for a year.”
In order to curb this, the dining hall will now feature a glass partition separating the elevator area from the sitting area directly adjacent to it. This will force people in the elevator to swipe their card to gain entry and will prevent people from sneaking in through the other doors.
“It is something I wish we didn’t have to do but, unfortunately, the way that it is set up, we have to do it,” Stanwick said.
Theft will also be combated through the addition of alarms that will sound if the stairwell doors are opened.
“We know that in the first couple weeks the alarms are going to be going off like crazy, but this is going to keep people from sneaking up. We have had a lot of theft so this will help to cut down on that,” he said.
Other proposed changes include expanding the pasta options, adding a vegan station next to the grill, adding a permanent carving station with two rotisserie ovens to do meats and vegetables, and potential relocations of the counters, salad bar, and the coffee makers.
There has also been discussion about bringing Pepsi products to campus so that there is a wider variety of beverages.
More cosmetic changes will include repainting, redoing the cement floors, adding additional seating and new patio seating, and adding audio speakers and digital signage across the entire commons.
Dining Services plans to utilize a new software called Rockbot in which students can download an app and queue a song to an electronic jukebox that will play throughout the dining hall.
Dining Services has proposed changing aspects of the retail locations. Martha’s Kitchen may feature a student choice poll for each semester.
“What you choose is the concept we create for the next semester,” Dining Services said.
Create is a subject of much discussion within Dining Services. There is a proposal to close Create and merge it with Java George into “a bigger, more efficient concept,” as was stated at the dinner.
Dining Services is also considering bringing in a national chain like Einstein Bagels or creating a WC version featuring similar products.
Sophie’s Cafe in Miller Library may also transform into a fully automated mini-mart that will accept cash, credit/debit cards, and flex dollars, but not Dining Dollars.
“Sophie’s Cafe is something that we’ve talked about a lot,” Stanwick said. “The question was: what benefits students? We felt that having a 24-hour micro-mart concept that is on campus that has fresh food, snacks, ice cream, microwaves, coffee stations, beverages, and other essentials that students have access to 24 hours…was a big deal for students. There are some students who don’t have cars. If it’s snowing or anything like that, who wants to walk all the way [to Acme] and try to cross the street? We get that students are out there in the wee hours of the morning and nothing in Chestertown is open.”
The next Food Committee meeting will be on April 24 in Hynson Lounge.

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