The Undergraduate Council of Students hosted a town hall with Vice President of Dining George Barboza, Director of Wellness and Nutrition Michelle Blais and Director of Retail Operations Bobby Noyes in the Petteruti Lounge Wednesday evening. The event was an opportunity for students “to make inquiries, requests and suggestions” about dining at Brown, according to an April 11 UCS newsletter.
Panelists announced the University’s recent purchase of a food truck for campus events and discussed upcoming additions to various dining hall facilities across campus, including a smoker coming to the kitchen in Josiah’s.
UCS Vice President Mina Sarmas described the town hall as an opportunity to hear “about the amazing changes” BDS has made and to “answer questions and have conversations.”
University-owned food truck, additions to Jo’s
At the event, panelists announced that they will be partnering with Brown Athletics to provide concessions at athletic events. Noyes hopes that by accepting Flex Points at games, the University will create “greater student presence and attendance at the (athletic) events.”
Dining Services has also purchased a new food truck for the University, Noyes announced. The food truck’s ribbon cutting ceremony will likely take place April 22 at a lacrosse and baseball doubleheader.
According to Noyes, Josiah’s will add a smoker to its kitchen for barbecue dishes and “everything that smoke compliments.” The late-night dining hall is planned to undergo renovations this summer.
It’s “still going to be Jo’s,” Noyes said. “It’ll still have all its charm.”
The panelists also emphasized the importance of increasing Dining Services’ student workforce — “We think it’s crucial to our success,” Noyes said. Dining Services hopes to “find ways and stations that students would have fun working at, working alongside our teams,” he added.
Dining Services will also be moving away from using MyMeal as its menu management system, and instead using a different platform that will provide “nutrition information for a lot more items,” Blais said.
Reusable containers program
Dining Services’ reusable container program, which launched earlier this month, is currently in its pilot stage. “We want to move away from the disposable, … to try to eliminate (waste) as much as possible,” Blais said.
Dining Services will partner with ReusePass to implement the new program. “We’re hoping that this pilot program is really successful and that when we roll it out in the fall … (reusable take out containers) should be the only option at the Sharpe Refectory and the Verney-Wooley” dining halls, Blais said.
When students sign up with ReusePass, they will receive an individualized QR code that will be scanned every time they temporarily check out a reusable container from a dining hall, Barboza said. Each container will also have a unique QR code, so dining staff can track which containers students check out.
Dining Services is looking to get feedback from students on the reusable containers, according to Barboza. “We really need to think this through before we roll this out.”
Kosher kitchen, Halal station updates
Panelists also gave updates on the Kosher kitchen, Halal station and allergy-friendly kitchen that are currently under construction in the Ratty. The new facilities will be “open to all students” and will not require “special accommodations” to use, according to Blais.
Brown will be “one of the first universities to have a dual-operating kosher kitchen,” she said.
Barboza said that, for the Kosher kitchen, Dining Services will be collaborating with Star K, a company at “the forefront of kosher certification” and “setting the pace for higher education.”
The Kosher kitchen and Halal station will serve “a variety” of foods, Blais said, including both traditionally Kosher and Halal foods and meals similar to the dining hall’s primary menu.
The allergy-friendly kitchen will serve food free of gluten and the top nine allergens, Blais said. For students with food restrictions, “shopping around the dining hall, while doable, is not something they want to have to do every day,” she added.
The new kitchen will not be self-service and students will need to get a clean plate when eating at the station to avoid any cross-contamination, according to Blais.
The Ratty’s current allergy pantry will remain open to students, but will be moved to a new location within the dining hall, she added.
The University’s special meals program will also remain an option for students with less common allergies and uncommon needs, according to Barboza.
Indigo Mudbhary is a University news senior staff writer covering student government. In her free time, she enjoys running around Providence and finding new routes.