September 18, 2019 | 64° F

Dining Services expands meal swipe options for coming year

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

In the coming year, Rutgers Dining Services will continue to innovate by improving the Menus of Change principle, planning new special events and giving students more ways to use their meal swipes. Additionally, the value of each swipe will be increased by one dollar.

Rutgers Dining Services hopes to provide wide varieties of food, upgrades and events for University students this upcoming academic year.

“We are adding meal swipes to Harvest at the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health on Cook campus, and the meal swipe value in our retail operations will increase to from $6 to $7 for breakfast and from $8 to $9 for lunch or dinner," Nick Emanuel said. 

Emanuel, the director of Operations at Rutgers Dining Services, said the Dining Services' agenda for the fall is to implement the Menus of Change principle into all dining hall locations. They started last spring with Neilson Dining Hall takeout which was very successful and well-received by students.

Menus of Change places vegetables at the center of the plate and moves meat to the side — known as "the protein flip.” The plan focuses on pushing minimally-processed foods and limiting bad fats and sugar — making whole grains the new normal, Emanuel said.

“We have a Dining Student Advisory Council that we meet with monthly to get a better understanding of what the students are looking for, and the council is made up of various students across the University. We also have a menu committee, which is made up of our food buyer, general managers and chefs who research new menu items and trends,” Emanuel said.

In the coming semester, students will see changes in takeout and the main entrée lines which will reflect the Menus of Change principles, he said. Emanuel said that they use the Napkin Boards in dining halls to improve based on student feedback, in which they respond daily with post-it notes and make changes almost immediately.

“I believe the Rutgers dining halls have a lot of potential but they do not live up to student standards often. There are also numerous inconsistencies when it comes to food quality between the four dining halls,” said Tooba Imran, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. 

She said that there have been times where she has been pleasantly surprised with the food and times where a meal at Brower Commons has extended into a long visit to the bathroom.

There is a lot of room for improvement in regards to dining halls accommodating to special dietary restrictions, Imran said.

“There have been many times that I went into Brower asking for Halal chicken, for example, but wasn't accommodated because I was told that I have to call and order ahead. Well, I tried, many times actually, but of the numerous times I called I was answered only once,” Imran said. She said that Livingston and Neilson dining halls usually serve Halal chicken every day.

School of Arts and Sciences junior Matthew Gavidia said the dining halls have improved over the course of the last year. 

“My overall experience of the dining halls at Rutgers University (has) been satisfactory," Gavidia said. "The choices, such as the pasta line or Mongolian grill, have always provided more than enough satisfaction when it comes to overall taste.”

At the Rock Cafe, or at any other meal swipe-viable option, the limit of what one can purchase is a vastly smaller portion than what one can get at a dining hall. He only eats outside on special occasions as the meal plans themselves are not cheap, Gavidia said.

“Dining service events have always been mixed. While I think King Neptune Night is great, as I always invite my parents, the other events have never truly been on the same level," he said. "Mardi Gras is an event that has much potential and I hope the quality of the selection can increase through my remaining time here at Rutgers."

Samil Tabani

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