Students will notice many changes in the dining hall this semester, Bon Appetit General Manager David Apthorpe said. These “monotony-breakers” will provide greater options for people with stricter diets.
Bon Appetit has tried in previous years to provide a broad selection of healthy foods for students. Part of this process has been bringing food from local producers to the dining hall. It has been a slow process, one that has been held up by logistical issues in previous years. This year, Apthorpe said, students will see foods, like maple syrup and beans, from local businesses instead of from outside the area. Bon Appetit is also partnering with Glei’s Orchards and Greenhouses in Hillsdale to bring fresh apples to the dining hall.
Bon Appetit is also providing students with strict diets and “big eight allergies” access to more options at meal times.
Previously, vegetarian and vegan students, as well as other students with health-related diet restrictions, have had difficulties finding full meals. This year, the gluten-free meal section has been relocated and includes a separate microwave, waffle maker, and refrigerator specifically for gluten-free foods. Additionally, now that agreements with local businesses are finally coming to fruition, students should see more vegetarian and vegan friendly options.
One new vegetarian and vegan option is the full-service grain bar. In past years, the grain bar was fully self-service. This year, Apthorpe said Bon Appetit has “brought the bar to life” by training chefs to serve as saute chefs at the bar. Apthorpe is trying to expand the full-service option to evening dining hours and is excited to be providing variety for a group of students that he says are historically underserved. As a result of these new changes, he said, Bon Appetit has been receiving fewer comments related to lack of vegetarian and vegan options.
Earlier in this month, Bon Appetit installed two new ID card swipe machines in the dining hall. Apthorpe said in an email that the old machines were “obsolete and were no longer accurately reading cards,” causing longer waits in the line to enter the dining hall.
The old machines allowed students to swipe their ID cards for meals or punch in their individual ID numbers without their cards. Now, the capability to punch in one’s ID number is no longer available, and students are unable to attend meals or share their swipes with other students without their physical ID card.
Apthorpe said Bon Appetit requested that the machines be updated, but the college made the ultimate decision of which machines they would receive. Apthorpe added that neither the college nor Bon Appetit specifically requested machines that would eliminate manual ID-number-punching; that function is simply not default on the replacements.
Apthorpe said students’ initial response to the upgraded machines had been negative but, as time has passed, “by and large the student body has been able to adjust.”
Several students said they feel inconvenienced by the change, stating that the new machines make swipe-sharing more difficult.
“I usually carry my ID card so the change hasn’t been a big deal for me,” senior Briana Dame said. “But I can definitely understand how it would be so inconvenient to other people.”
Some students said they feel the change is an insult to the Honor Code and suggests that some students would use others’ ID numbers without their permission.
“There’s a general feeling among the student body that Bon Appetit does not trust us anymore,” junior Morgan Morrison said in an email. “We signed an honor code, and if Bon Appetit cannot trust the students any longer, then we’ve lost part of what makes Hillsdale so special.”
The change comes after responses Bon Appetit made through its comments text line which mentioned the potential for “instances of fraud we are unwilling to accept.”
Apthorpe also echoed this sentiment.
“The opportunity for someone to use another student’s ID without their knowledge had been pretty easy,” Apthorpe said.
Adding that while there have been no reported instances of fraud, Bon Appetit “sees that as a risk worth eliminating” and is taking steps toward increasing convenience while still protecting students’ meal plans.
Bon Appetit has started developing changes to improve the new systems further. Apthorpe mentioned they are currently looking into enabling tap-to-swipe capabilities through Bluetooth-capable cell phones.
Additionally, Bon Appetit is in the process of developing a swipe exchange program between Bon Appetit locations, like A.J.’s Cafe, on campus. This would better serve students with evening engagements that prevent them from attending meals while simultaneously relieving pressure on the dining hall staff during busy meal rushes.