As Springfield College students begin to settle back into their dorms and start the first semester of the new school year, the one unifying central thought they all share is FOOD.
Where to eat, what to eat, and when to eat are some of the most important decisions for any college student to make throughout the day. To start the new year, the Campus Union and Cheney Dining Hall are emphasizing starting the year off strong in terms of dining options.
Mark Marson is the Director of Operations for Dining Services at Springfield College. He’s using information gathered from last year to implement new additions for dining this school year.
“We did surveys last year, and the three biggest things that students asked for were Mexican, Asian, and Italian. So we listened to their suggestions and are now offering three new retails (in the Union),” Marson said.
The most drastic of the changes that have already begun in the Union is the complete remodeling of Burger Studio into Sazon Mexican Grille. They will be serving customizable burritos, tacos, and burrito bowls complete with various vegetable options, multiple protein choices, and several sauces.
Chips and guacamole will also be available in tune with the Mexican theme of the restaurant. However, burgers, chicken tenders, and fries are still available in the evenings, which is based off of what students have suggested. Buffalo chicken wraps will also make a comeback by popular demand.
Another new restaurant opening up in the Union is called Jasmine’s, which will be taking over the spot where pizza was served at night. Jasmine’s is an Asian concept that will be expanding the pre-existing sushi that is freshly made every day, as well as pioneering a new hot food option to be served at the restaurant called danburi. This dish will feature a vegetarian option, as well as the customary beef and
The third and final new consumer’s destination will be called Italian Roasted, which is a “combo of flatbread, grainbowl, or pasta, and then it’s fully customizable from there. (Students will be) able to get what kind of protein they want, what vegetables they want,” according to Marson. This restaurant will open officially in the spot of Chef’s Pride.
Marson also said that new “gluten-free products, premium nut blends, Kambucha in the beverage cooler, etc.” are some examples of healthy and allergen-aware items that are going to be in the Innovation Merchandiser for students to buy.
“Between the Innovation Merchandiser, as well as another cooler that we added in there and the main cooler that we have, we now offer pretty much every single beverage that Coca-Cola has to offer us; we can’t buy everything that Coca-Cola sends, but everything they would ship here we have on the shelf somewhere to be able to see what the students like and what they’re really buying,” Marson said.
As for Cheney Hall, many actions had already been taken last year and last semester to improve, so changes in there are not as drastic as they were in the Union, but some still did occur.
The True Balance station was rolled out at the tail-end of last year, which eliminates the top eight most common allergens from food and enables students to be far less cautious about what they are consuming.
Amongst other changes, a panini station was put in place of the regular deli this year, as well as the closing of the omelette station at the end of breakfast each day that will turn into a made-to-order pasta station.
“This was a big calling for, the pasta station,” said Marson. “It was always pasta, you can customize it, and it will be out there for lunch and dinner every day.”
As for new staff members joining the team, Springfield College hired a registered dietitian named Hailey Handzel to aid students who have any type of dietary restrictions and dietary needs. Handzel was an important addition because she will be able to work closely alongside the True Balance program, along with other dietary programs at Springfield.
“My biggest philosophy is that the students’ feedback helps shape the program; without getting student feedback, we can’t change the program and make it the way that they really want it,” stated Marson.
“To be able to get feedback on the new concepts, new ideas, and all the things that we’re running, we’ll be able to change the program. I say it all the time: if there’s a student that comes in here and wants to buy a certain type of beverage every day that we don’t carry, I’ll carry it if they’re going to come in here every day and utilize it. The program here is really about the students,” he added.
Photo Courtesy Irene Rotondo