August 22, 2019 | 89° F

Neilson takeout brings back old favorites in move to diversify menu

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Neilson Dining Hall’s switch to healthy takeout choices last semester was an exercise in menu diversity. It has since readjusted its menu to incorporate the new options alongside some old favorites, such as buffalo wings. PINTEREST

Neilson Dining Hall on Douglass campus changed its takeout menu to include healthier options, and most recently, brought back some old favorites alongside its new choices. Dave Donlon, general manager of Neilson Dining Hall, explained the reasoning behind these changes. 

“It really comes down to choice for the students. To give them as many options as possible," he said.

The takeout menu was originally changed last spring to include healthier options as a part of the Menus of Change initiative, which is a nationwide effort to encourage healthier food choices that use less resources and take a smaller toll on the planet, according to a Rutgers Today article. 

The updated takeout menu still offers these healthier food choices, but has also brought back some of its old favorites. Available on the Rutgers Dining Services website, the menu offers many options for students to choose between — both healthy and unhealthy. 

Wednesday night takeout features mushroom burgers, as well as beef burgers. Every Wednesday in the month alternates between quinoa cauliflower burgers, sweet potato falafel burgers, black bean and beet burgers and cod and potato burgers.

“I think we have the best of both worlds. I think we have healthful alternatives along the Menus of Change philosophy, and we also have some of the old favorites," Donlon said. 

There have been very positive reactions to the updated takeout menu from the students. Samuel Hutt, a Mason Gross School of the Arts first-year, offered some positive feedback and said that he feels good about the healthier options being offered, Donlon said.

“I think it is overall better because before it seemed like everything was kind of really unhealthy, so they made a much better attempt to make everything healthier to promote good health. I feel better about myself if I get takeout now," Hutt said. 

Brett Temple, a Mason Gross School of the Arts junior, also offered his opinion on the takeout changes and described the visual appeal of the healthier options offered at takeout.

“They keep them out on display so I was able to be attracted to it solely based on what it looked like. Usually when I look at vegan or vegetarian things, I do not think they look appetizing but they make it look appetizing so I guess I have been having more than I would expect," Temple said. 

For other students who may not be as enthusiastic about the healthier options, there are still classics like buffalo wings and chicken nuggets, which are offered on Tuesdays. As Donlon said, there is something for everyone at the dining hall.

“I am trying to create an atmosphere where, no matter where the students go, they have something. If they want to indulge a little bit or if they want to make a healthier lifestyle and choose something along that vein, they have a choice," Donlon said.

He discussed how student perspectives are always considered when making decisions for the dining hall. He stressed that these decisions are made with students in mind, with the objective of giving them as many options as possible. 

“We want to make sure, across the board, that we are making good, solid offerings,” Donlon said.

As he explained, this is also reflected in the main dining hall, where there are options following the Menus of Change philosophy alongside some less healthy choices. This is seen in the entrée line, the cook to order stations, the vegan and vegetarian lines and even in the pizza station, where flatbread pizza is offered alongside the original pizzas.

Donlon mentioned that meal swipes have been accepted at Harvest Cafe since September, which offers minimally-processed, whole foods made fresh daily. Harvest is located in the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health facility on Cook campus, according to the website. 

Donlon explained that the main goal of dining services is to appeal to students' preferences, which is why they work to offer students a wide array of options, not only in takeout, but all around campus.

“Really, what we want to do is give the students a choice between what they want to eat but offer a wide variety. I think we have accomplished that, and we hear a lot of good things," he said.

Hannah McClain

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