Dining hall changes positively received by students

When walking into the dining halls for the first time this semester, returning students were greeted with a variety of changes, including Robert Hall’s new taqueria, Dana’s performance bowls, and Foss’s cook-to-order global station. Marietta A. Lamarre, the general manager of the school’s dining services, explained that Bon Appétit’s main strategy is to always switch things up: “We don’t want the students to get bored,” she said.

Lamarre explained that the food service decided to replace Bobs’ old pizza station with a new taqueria, enabling each dining hall to feature a specialty that differentiates from that of the two others on campus. Since Dana already has a pizza station, Lamarre thought it was redundant to have one at Bob’s as well. Hence, the new taqueria, which offers options like shredded meat, salsa, tortillas, refried beans, and cheese.

Dana and Foss have their own new specialties as well. In Dana, Bon Appétit introduced the performance bowl program, an interactive health-driven station that allows students to customize meals to maximize their mental and physical health. This station—which offers lots of whole grains and vegetables—contains signage explaining the health benefits of the food being served. In addition to this program, Dana implemented a new crepe station which will regularly rotate with Dana’s beloved deli station.

The biggest change to Foss is that on Monday to Thursday nights, the dining hall will feature a global station with a cook-to-order dish. But no—due to high demand from students, Friday will still have a create-your-own pizza or burrito bar.

In addition to some of their larger changes, Bon Appétit also made some small tweaks to further improve the overall dining hall experience. For example, the dining halls will feature more halal meat this year for Colby’s Muslim students. On a separate note, the dining hall is currently trying to plan a cookbook signing event with a chef and Colby alumni. Also, the dining halls’ “Recipes from Home” program allows students to work in the kitchen with the chefs to create a dish that reminds them of what they eat at home.

Furthermore, in preparation for an upcoming FDA rule, Bon Appétit now includes calorie estimates on their menus. Plus, the dining service plans will be using the mobile kitchen more. In fact, they used it recently at the field dedication for Colby’s new athletic fields.

Why did Bon Appétit decide to implement so many changes for the new school year? After emphatically picking up a well-organized bundle of comment cards, Lamarre explained that the food service takes these cards very seriously. Although the chefs themselves answer the cards, the general manager collects them and spends lots of time pouring over their details. The main trend she noticed was that most students simply want more variety.

Not everything is changing, however. Bon Appétit plans to continue its teaching kitchen programming every Wednesday night. In fact, 17 students attended the first event, cooking with apples. The dining service is also working with the Asian Students Association and Students Organized for Black and Latinx Unity (SOBLU) to feature a Lunar New Year night and Latinx night respectively.