The start of the Spring Semester marks a full year since Chartwells took over the food services at St. John’s.
During this time under Chartwells’ reign, certain changes have been instituted to increase student convenience. For example, the new interior design of Montgoris Dining Hall created a more welcoming dining environment. More flexible meal options are available thanks to meal exchanges at Marillac Food Court. And finally, possibly the most notable change under Chartwells’ management, is the introduction of a brand new late night dining program which makes it possible for students to buy hot food on weeknights after Montgoris has closed.
But it is important to note the shortcomings of Chartwells’ services. It is fair to say that on-campus dining is still far from perfect. It is with a constructive spirit that I have prepared a list of New Year’s resolutions for the Chartwells team.
First, the abolition of all “tray-less” days should be considered strongly by the Chartwells management. These days are a source of much inconvenience for students. There are signs plastered all over Montgoris demonstrating the need to conserve water and thwart student waste; however, there are easier ways to conserve resources that do not include decreasing the number of weekly washed trays.
For example, let there be “biodegradable paper plate days” in place of tray-less days – an improvement that would unquestionably save water and simultaneously not impose an inconvenience on the student diner. It must be realized by Chartwells that dining tray-less at a buffet style establishment is not only nonsensical, it is incredibly difficult.
Second, the new Late Night Dining program must be further developed. There are faults with the service that can easily be mended. For example, the items that are listed on the menu are sometimes out of stock and not available for purchase. This is especially annoying given that the service is only available a few days each week.
This service would be immensely strengthened if the menu was consistently supported by food availability and the days of operation extended through the weekend. Surely the most reliable way to build a consistent student clientele is to establish a confidence in students that menu items will in fact be available when they wish to purchase them. No late night dining service will thrive until such a trust is instilled in the resident community.
In addition to these resolutions, I continue to call for increased student convenience at Montgoris Dining Hall. As all campus residents can attest to, the quality, the substance, and the variety of food at Montgoris declines dramatically in between the structured lunch and dinner hours. This decline is a most inopportune reality for a college student whose schedule does not adhere to a rigid and routine dietary schedule.
The same amount and variety of food should be available for students in the mid-afternoon just as it is at dinner time, especially if the price of these “off-hour” times remains the same. Why should students pay full meal price when they aren’t receiving full meal options in return? Surely, students deserve a full quality lunch between afternoon classes, even if it is at an unconventional time.
Lastly, continuing on the topic of convenience, Montgoris and Marillac are simply not open late enough to fully accommodate residents’ needs. In addition to closing before 8:30 p.m. on weeknights, Montgoris closes even earlier on weekend evenings and opens later in the mornings. Montgoris being the main resident dining hall should be open more to its dependent resident students, while Marillac too needs to remain open for business longer during the weekend hours.
With the welcoming of a new calendar year, Chartwells would do well to continue its improvement of on-campus dining. As we prepare for the Spring Semester, what better time to start than now?