Dining Services revamps late night, early morning offerings

Lizzi Kehoe | Contributing Reporter

Most students have noticed a rather famous item missing from the Dining Services menu: mozzarella sticks.

The complete disappearance of the mozzarella sticks is in response to Washington University’s collaboration with Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), a global organization working to solve the United States’ obesity issue and ensure a healthier future. PHA began alongside first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign in 2010.

Bottomless mugs sit in Cafe Bergson as part of a Dining Services unlimited coffee program. Each mug costs $95 and can be used for unlimited refills throughout the school year.Jillian McCarten | Student Life

Bottomless mugs sit in Cafe Bergson as part of a Dining Services unlimited coffee program. Each mug costs $95 and can be used for unlimited refills throughout the school year.

Now in its second year, Wash. U. was one of the first 20 colleges to participate in the program in an effort to promote healthy eating, campus executive chef Patrick McElroy said.

“The University, with PHA, is calling it Bear Balance, so that applies to different wellness initiatives they’re doing. Even though we were a part of PHA last year, this year we’ve launched Bear Balance meals and Bear Balance desserts,” Kristi Baker, marketing manager of Dining Services, added.

Items that fall under Bear Balance meet certain protein, caloric and fat intake, which required chefs to rethink recipes and menus.

“We have to follow certain standards. One is how many fried items we’re allowed to have at each station. It’s very challenging because it can add up easily,” McElroy said.

McElroy and Baker, along with Bob Marx, general manager of dining services, looked closely at which fried foods should stay and which, like mozzarella sticks, could go.

“We had to make some really aggressive and thought-out decisions on what items were the most popular,” McElroy said.

Baker added that this initiative is “much bigger than fried foods.” The mozzarella sticks, however, may not be gone forever.

“Now some of the items could, on occasion, pop up, but we can’t promote it. We’re not allowed to say, ‘Oh, it’s mozzarella stick day,’” McElroy said.

The University is also making changes to the caffeine culture on campus, with new technologies and varied options concerning where and how students get their cup of joe.

Students can find a new automated coffee machine in the Danforth University Center, although it is still in its pilot phase and thus only available to a select few.

“[The coffee cups] are [radio-frequency identification] chipped, and the coffee fills are preloaded onto [the cups]. So you can just put the cup on there, and then it fills your coffee based on how many fills you have,” Baker said.

“There’s a couple of issues with the technology that we’re having, so we aren’t quite ready to launch that to the whole student body, yet,” Baker added.

Due to the construction that has closed Whispers Cafe in Olin Library, Dining Services has also extended Cafe Bergson’s hours to 9 p.m.

“So far it’s really not been that steady, but you know we just wanted that as another option,” Marx noted.

The University has also made brewed coffee available at Ibby’s in the morning in efforts to shorten the long lines at Bergson. Dining Services is also changing how students can get coffee, with bottomless travel mugs.

“You can buy a membership for $95. It gets you a mug that you can use for the entire school year with unlimited brewed coffee at any of our locations,” Baker said.

Baker described the major savings students could rack up with the bottomless mug.

“It’s a big saving if you’re drinking a cup a day or a few cups a week. You can get [the travel mug] at any Dining Services locations.”

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