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Print Editions Saturday September 30th, 2023

Jo’s shakes it up with salad, market changes

Vending machines, soup station replace convenience store, three burners

Students returned to Josiah’s this semester to find unchopped salads, a soup station and a row of vending machines in place of Little Jo’s.

The soup station — along with roasted turkey breast — replaced the “three burners” station, which used to offer a rotating variety of foods, including chicken wings and dumplings. The Little Jo’s convenience store has been replaced with an array of vending machines that offer “high-end sandwiches and salads” along with traditional snacks, said George Barboza, director of dining programs.

These changes were driven by student feedback from last year, Barboza said. “Some of the feedback we received (was) that Jo’s had too many fried food options on that menu.”

“It’s really about having healthier options,” he continued. “We used to have chicken nuggets, which were deep fried, and we replaced it with real, roasted turkey breast at that station.”

The six new vending machines also offer healthier options than Little Jo’s did, Barboza said. “We have more food offerings now.”

The change to Little Jo’s gives students access to food at all hours of the day, he added. Operation hours of Little Jo’s were limited in the past when workers were running the convenience store.

Additionally, Jo’s salads are no longer chopped to cut down on long lines. “Chopping the salads was labor-intensive and required a lot of time per order,” Barboza wrote in an email to The Herald. “We still feature all of the ingredients with additional enhancements such as the fresh roasted turkey breast to round out the salad concept.”

Some students are not happy about the changes to the dining options at Jo’s.

“My greatest gripe would be the fact that (Dining Services) managed to slim down options but without replacing (them) with great variety,” said Ben Myers ’21. “If you are vegetarian, you still have salads, but they could have done more with offerings in that respect.”

Gianna DeVincenzo ’22 expressed disappointment with the change to the salad station. “They can’t cut us off from our chopped salads,” she said.

But Ethan Chung ’22 said he prefers the new unchopped salads. “The chopped salads last year turned to mush.”

Lei Roylo ’21 was disappointed with the changes. “I miss chicken nuggets. I miss chicken wings. I don’t appreciate this soup business,” she said.

Barboza acknowledged student complaints about the change in food options. “I know there have been concerns about chicken wings going away,” Barboza said. “We’ve decided that we’ll probably have to invest in a new piece of equipment to make it happen, but I think you’ll see chicken wings back on the menu” in the near future.

The arrival of the vending machines was met with mixed reactions from students. Blessing Ubani ’21 said that Little Jo’s “had things like power strips and other handy things you might need at your dorm.”

The vending machines are “cool, but not as convenient” as Little Jo’s was, added Izayah Powell ’21.

Myers said that the non-food options at Little Jo’s saved him trips to CVS. “You could just come (to Little Jo’s) and use points for that, which makes sense if you are already paying for meal plan,” but the new vending machines do not provide non-food items.

The vending machines do not currently accept Bear Bucks or points. But Barboza said Wednesday that they will accept them “very soon, hopefully within the next day or so,” which will “allow us to capture a larger audience, as many students use one or the other.” Three of the six vending machines will accept Bear Bucks and three will accept points, but both will have the same food offerings, Barboza added.

Still, some students aren’t bothered by the changes. “The uproar isn’t really worth it,” said Dan Adkins ’21. “It really doesn’t make a change in anyone’s life at the end of the day.”


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