Dining Services announces 10-year plan for improvement, expansion
After being ranked third in the Daily Meal’s 52 Best Colleges for Food in America earlier this month, Washington University’s Dining Services outlined its 10- to 15-year plan for long-term improvements at a Student Union Senate meeting on Sept. 12.
The new plan that Dining Services and the University are currently developing suggests that students can expect to see many changes within the decade—and some changes very soon
According to Paul Schimmele, assistant to the director of operations of Dining Services, the proposed changes aim to accommodate a growing undergraduate population at the University, with an expected 10 percent student increase in the near future.
“We’ll be upwards of 7000 undergrads, and that has a true impact on dining in a variety of places,” Schimmele said. “There will be new buildings on the east end of campus. Additional people there change the landscape enough that we really need to take a hard look at what we’re doing.”
From student surveys and research conducted by a consulting firm, the University has determined that issues of lunchtime seating in the Danforth University Center will need to be addressed as the student body increases.
One of the considerations is to add a structure that would connect the DUC to Mallinckrodt and possibly Umrath Lounge and the Gargoyle, Schimmele said.
“At this point we will look at the feasibility of that,” he said. “That’ll be exciting if in fact that’s the direction we go.”
There are also plans to build a new dining facility on the east side of campus that would service art, architecture and engineering students, as well as the five new buildings slated to be constructed there, including the Lewis Center for graduate art students.
Murphy predicts the eastside eatery—which is intended to be a combination servery, carvery and market—might be a better outlet for selling fresh produce and maybe even raw meat, similar to cafés at the universities that were ranked first and second by the Daily Meal.
“There isn’t a huge demand in the students for a market-type store [now],” Murphy said. “The ones who live on campus, not a ton of cooking happens. That will change when the east market/café conceptualizes on the east end…because then you’re speaking to a corner of the campus that could serve people who live off campus.”
Although the plan is still in the works, many students who frequent the east side of campus have expressed interest in the idea.
“[A new dining hall] would be awesome, especially if they could have it [open] at later hours,” sophomore Simin Lim, a student in the art school, said. “A lot of people work through the night, which is already horrible without the whole starvation thing.”
The 10-year dining plan also includes The Village Café, which may see changes within the decade, as only four to five years remain in the life expectancy of its equipment, Schimmele said. Currently the University is planning to install a dish machine similar to the conveyor belt-style ones in the DUC and Bear’s Den.
Further in the future, The Village Café may be expanded to accommodate for increased student traffic during lunchtime if new classroom buildings are constructed on the west end of campus.
Dining Services will conduct more focus groups to gauge student’s dining needs, which, Schimmele noted, are always evolving.
“The student today is different in a lot of ways than the student who lived in the Village when it first opened,” Schimmele said. “They’re different—society’s different—students want to eat healthier [and] want different types of things now.”
Schimmele hopes the improvements to dining will address these changes.
“I’d love it if they offered more healthy food options in the Village or expanded the salad bar,” junior Madeleine Parker, who lives in Village House, said. “Right now, it’s sometimes difficult to get vegetables and vegetarian food.”