Illinois Tech Dining Services introduces a number of summertime changes across dining locations

Date: 
Fri, 2017/08/25
By: 
Ethan Castro

Despite the unshakeable reputation that college students forgo fulfilling physiological needs (including eating) for the sake of passing academically, universities across the planet take all necessary precautions to ensure students have an easily available source of their basic sustenance, and the Illinois Institute of Technology is no different. Illinois Tech Dining Services is the body responsible for the experience at every dining location on campus, including 10West in the IIT Tower, Talon’s and The Bog in Hermann Hall, and Center Court, The Commons, Global Grounds, and Pritzker Club in the MTCC. This team is led by its General Manager, Christopher Ferenc, and is dedicated to ensuring students can dine in a comfortable and accommodating environment, with respect to the wide array of different cultures, belief systems, and lifestyles found on the Illinois Tech campus.

Indeed, Illinois Tech Dining Services has a strong history of using student feedback to shape major strategic changes in the dining experiences on campus. The student-run Food Advisory Board (a joint initiative under the guidance of the Residence Hall Association and the Student Government Association) holds regular meetings with Ferenc and the other leaders of Illinois Tech Dining Services in an effort to translate student input and suggestions. The expansion of Halal options during the weekends, the opening of Express Meals in The Commons at 11 a.m. during the weekdays, and revisions to The Bog’s menu all came out of prior iterations of Food Advisory Board. As Student Government Association (SGA) and Residence Hall Association (RHA) begin their operations for the year, students can expect to hear of more such developments from Food Advisory Board in the weeks to come.

Continuing along this line, the summer of 2017 saw a number of small-scale changes made to The Commons and Center Court. In The Commons, the weekday breakfast period was extended to last until 9:30 a.m., and the weekend lunch period was extended to last until 1:45 p.m.. Mondays and Tuesdays in The Commons now see made-to-order stir fry in the southern pasta bar. The deli station at the northernmost pod of The Commons now utilizes several oven toasters for sandwiches. Several new beverage options, including Vitamin Water and Hi-C, have also been added to The Commons. The ordinary entrée rotation in The Commons has also been enhanced to regularly (on a weekly rotation basis) include made-to-order salads, a baked potato bar, and all-day hot breakfasts. Down the stairs from The Commons, Center Court has also seen a new specialty lunch entrée station added.

Of particular note are the drastic changes made to the Pritzker Club, also located in the MTCC. As of this academic year, the Pritzker Club is no longer a restaurant, but it is instead a reservable space with various planned events. Every Tuesday will see a pop-up snack bar available in the Pritzker Club, and faculty and staff can now reserve rooms in the Pritzker Club through Event Services.

In a seemingly less progressive direction, another summertime change was made to student meal plans between the academic semesters. In prior years, all student meal plans could be used to bring guests into The Commons, at the simple cost of an additional allotted meal. However, many students returning to campus were shocked to discover that many of their meal plans were no longer allowed to be used for guests. Indeed, a quick check of the university's meal plan breakdown shows that only two of the existing meal plans, the Hawk 175 and the Hawk 50, have a specified "Guest Option." This comes at the chagrin of many returning students. Leadership of RHA has already expressed a desire to investigate this sudden change made without any student input and will be following up with both Illinois Tech Dining Services and the Dean of Students, whose office has jurisdiction over student meal plans.

The final note to be made is that dining experience can be strongly shaped by students as well as staff. The suggestions board in The Commons is monitored on a daily basis, and Food Advisory Board meetings give a more official platform to air grievances to those who can translate them into action. The first Food Advisory Board meeting of the semester is scheduled for Thursday, September 7 at 3:15 p.m. Although the location has yet to be decided, students interested in playing a role in shaping the direction of campus dining should try to keep that date and time open. In addition, RHA can be reached directly via email at rha@iit.edu.