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The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Summer residents still on the fence about new dining services

By Lisa Potter

Staff Writer

Student Development announced last February that Loyola would be switching its catering vendor from Sodexo to Parkhurst Dining, a company used by universities such as Bucknell University and Philadelphia University, among others. The change came after the student body, represented by the Student Government Association (SGA), asserted that Loyola’s dining program longer suited the needs of the typical Loyola student; that they wanted more healthy options, more variety, and lower prices.

The most notable of the changes made within Dining Services is that Loyola is implementing a meal plan this year, much different from the previous method, which was an a la carte method of payment. Rather than paying respective prices for each item the, the individual may choose one of the traditional meal plans. The meal plans differ for residential freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors due to the different living situations available to each academic level. However all students are required to choose a type of plan to ensure the new dining program’s sustainability. Each plan offers a certain number of meals per week or meals per semester in addition to declining balance dollars. A meal plan is not mandatory for upperclassmen, but they are required to buy into the declining dollar account to ensure the program remains feasible for the university.

The declining balance dollars differ from the Evergreen account, which will still be available to all Loyola students. The declining dollars are to be spent at on-campus dining venues only and can be chosen as an alternative to the meal plans. Although, as Boulder Gardens Cafe will remain a retail establishment during weekday lunchtime, all meal plans also include an allotment of declining dollars.

When Boulder is an all-you-can-eat location, during dinner time on weekdays, as well as brunch and dinner Saturdays and Sunday, a meal may be used. For example, if a student chooses ten meals per week, he or she may use a meal anytime during weekday dinner time or Saturday and Sunday brunch, and declining balance dollars for weekday brunch. For example, if a student chooses ten meals per week, he or she may use a meal anytime during weekday dinner time or Saturday and Sunday brunch, and declining balance dollars for weekday brunch.

Barrett Adams, a junior who remained on campus for the summer working for the men’s soccer team, said, “To be honest, the new meal plans kind of puzzled me. I know I don’t speak for everyone, but in my case, Loyola auto-assigned my meal plan and never really gave me enough of a heads up to pick on in time, so I never really understood the different meal plans that were offered.” He said, “I didn’t really have a problem with the meal plans last year; I just thought certain things were a little pricey. The prices of all the different food options are much cheaper in general, though, this year, along with all the products that will be offered in Iggy’s Market, which is great.”

However, the establishment of meal plans is not the only thing students will notice this year. Loyola has installed all new dining locations in Boulder Gardens Café and the Andrew White Student Center, and updated the Starbucks, Iggy’s Market, Flannery Market, and the Sellinger Express.

“Unlike last year, where Boulder had names distributed to the different stations, [for example,] WoW, Moe’s, Boars Head etc., that is no longer the case. The entire place is known as the ‘Boulder Café’… My favorite thing to get is a hamburger with fries,” said Adams.

“I really love the new pizza place,” said junior Tessa Taulane, who spent the summer at Loyola working in the Admissions Department. “I’ve always liked thicker crust more than Vocellis’ thin crust, and you can really tell they’re not lying when they say it’s homemade. Also the new grill is great.” Of the changes to other locations and prices, Taulane said, “When you ordered a burger or chicken sandwich from WoW, they would literally give you a cheeseburger—nothing on it for five dollars, plus. Now, they ask if you want lettuce, tomato, onions, etc…”

Senior Amanda Woodward, who stayed at Loyola for a summer internship said, “I really like the salads and wraps. [The food is] much cheaper than it used to be, and the food is definitely better. I could make any type of wrap or salad I want to, so it’s nice to have a variety of choices. The vegetables are always fresh, which make the salads so much better.”

According to Loyola’s Dining Services website, Parkhurst Dining will be able to provide more options for vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free and other special diets, in addition to healthier options for the entire student body. They also promise, as part of their “FarmSource Program,” that it will source 20 percent or more of its food from local sources, and continually emphasize the freshness of the ingredients used in all its foods, which they also claim will be made mostly from scratch on campus. As part of its goal, Parkhurst aims to provide more ethnic and cultural dishes as well as traditional comfort foods, while focusing on providing healthy and fresh options for Loyola students.

Adams said, “…I think there is a much better variety of food options this year that will appeal to a lot of people. In my case, I have a food allergy, so having a wide variety of options on campus is something that is very important to me since there are certain things I can’t eat.”

“I think one of the biggest differences was in the catered food,” said Taulane. “I snuck food during Summer O and a lot of the options are way better than the Sodexo food I got [during] my freshman [orientation] back in 2011. Some stuff tastes fresher…but other things I’m kind of disappointed in.”

Taulane explained that the marinara, pizza crust, and chicken sandwiches were clearly more fresh than the food provided previously by Sodexo, but also said she was disappointed in the pasta salad, and that the pasta salad provided by Sodexo was better.

“I will miss Boulder when, at all times, you can have Mexican, or you can get greasy WoW, or pizza [and] Italian at Vocellis. Those certain types of foods were always set in stone. Now with the rotating stations, one day they may have Chinese and Italian food, but no Mexican…there is more variety in the long run but less on the day-to-day…” said Taulane.

“I think the changes are good, but I also think there could be more,” said Uchechukwu Emili, a sophomore, who spent the summer taking classes at Loyola. “I guess I like [these changes] better just because you can tell that the food is a little healthier, but the one thing that still stings is that it is still just as expensive as before.”

Woodward said, “I think there are still a few bugs to work out with the new system, but overall it’s much better than the old system. The meal plans are different and will take some time to get used to, but I think the quality of food is worth it.”

“While the changes in Boulder weren’t fully in place when I ate there, it’s clear that Parkhurst has gone out of their way to provide students with a much wider variety of food options,” said Adams. “The employees seem much more organized and as a result, I think we’ll see better efficiency from the dining services this year.”

The students who ate in Boulder while spending the summer at Loyola said that the Iggy’s and Student Center locations were not open, and could not comment on the quality of food or differences between the new and old. Additionally, they said that students would not be permitted to walk through Boulder while it is an “all-you-care-to-eat” location.

“It’s a little inconvenient that we can’t walk through Boulder during the all-you-care-to-eat. Having said that, it’s only after 5:30 p.m. or on weekends, so I don’t think it will affect me too much,” said Woodward, who will be living in senior housing on campus on the East side of campus this upcoming semester.

Taulane, on the other hand, did not like this new change, and was concerned with how the closure of Boulder during those times would affect her walking through campus during extreme weather. Additionally, she noted that the change would affect how she met with some of her friends, since they could no longer meet in Boulder during the times when the new meal plan is applicable.

Loyola will also be using biodegradable serviceware, and participate in composting to meet its environmental initiatives, and re-focus on sustainable food and aiding the surrounding environment.

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Summer residents still on the fence about new dining services