By Riley Dauber
When one goes off to college, they may hear from upperclassmen or alumni that “the food’s not good” or “the food isn’t supposed to be good.” However, Washington College is hoping to change this stereotype by hiring new food vendors, AVI Foodsystems, and promising a variety of options in the dining hall this year.
Meal plans and dining options can be viewed on the WC dining hall website. The section that stuck out to many students is Clarity, which, according to the website, will “offer flavorful selections free from common allergens of peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, wheat, soy, milk products, and eggs.”
The Clarity section solves one major problem that the dining hall struggled with in the past: the lack of options for students with strict allergies or meal plans.
For sophomore Rachel Beall, finding gluten-free and plant-based options was difficult, especially on weekends.
“As someone with a pretty restrictive diet, I was grateful that during the weekdays there was almost always something I could eat, especially with the addition of the ‘Rooted’ station,” she said. “However, I was incredibly disappointed on the weekends when there were really limited options…it was almost impossible some days to find food that I could eat.”
Students who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet would often return to the “Rooted” station, where they could order a personalized pasta or vegetable dish on weekdays.
“I think the weekdays had enough meal options when the ‘Rooted’ station was up, as Sara always made new desserts and meals to try,” Beall said.
Introducing the Clarity station is a step in the right direction for the dining hall, but should have been implemented years sooner to accommodate students with specific diets or allergies.
AVI Foodsystems also reinvented the first floor of Hodson Hall Commons by introducing four new dining options: Freshens Fresh Food Kitchen, CraveTown, Boar’s Head Deli, and We Proudly Serve Starbucks at Java George.
Freshens and CraveTown will take the place of Martha’s by offering flatbreads, salads, and wraps during the day and wraps, melts, pizzas, and sides from 8p.m. to midnight.
Although some students may be disappointed to lose Martha’s, the extended hours and options are a must to guarantee that students enjoy the meals they eat throughout the day.
Another change to the dining hall this year is the hours. During the 2021-2022 school year, the dining hall was open from 7:30-10 a.m. for breakfast, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. for lunch, and 4:30-7 p.m. for dinner. On the weekends, there was a brunch option from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and dinner from 4-6 p.m.
Many students complained about these hours, with some finding it difficult to eat between classes.
“I remember many days last semester when I would run into the dining hall after back-to-back classes, labs, and work, to see that it was closed or closing,” Beall said. “It was difficult to find time to eat dinner when the dining hall closed so early.”
Fortunately, the hours are now extended to accommodate students’ varying schedules. Dinner will now be from 4-7:30 p.m. during the week and 4-7 p.m. on the weekends.
There will also be mid-meals in between regular mealtimes so students have an opportunity to stop by the dining hall whenever they need.
During freshman orientation, the class of 2026 were some of the first students on campus to try food from the new providers.
“I really like the dining hall,” freshman Emme Bryner said. “The pasta is really good. And so are the cookies.”
Public opinion has been generally positive, with many students praising the meals and variety.
“I think the food is really lovely and I’m always very appreciative of the assortment of food with every single meal that I’ve been to so far,” freshman Colby Andrews said.
It’s great to see so many changes being made to the dining hall since meals are an important part of the college experience. College food doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be bad. Considering students’ busy schedules, it’s important that they have plenty of time to eat full and nutritious meals throughout the day. The new options and diet-conscious meals are a vast improvement.
“I’m excited for more options,” Beall said. “It appears that there was a more careful consideration of students with dietary restrictions with the new provider, and I am excited to see the planned changes happening.”
Photo by Grace Hazlehurst
Photo Caption: AVI Foodsystems is advocating for fresh meal options this year and offers many different stations, including Homestyles, Roots, Fusion, Nutribar, Smoke and Fire, Clarity, Trattoria, and the Carvery.