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AJ’s Cafe, where Hills­dalians can get their favorite snacks. Courtesy | Regan Meyer

Bon Appetit Man­agement Company is working to streamline food ser­vices and bring back items that were elim­i­nated due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

One of the biggest changes is the intro­duction of the Transact Mobile Ordering app, which allows stu­dents to order from the cafe­teria and A.J.’s Cafe via their phones. David Apthorpe, Bon Appetit general manager, said the app was put in place to ease student stress and shorten dining hall lines.

“The mobile ordering app, as of Friday, Jan.15, is live,” Apthorpe said. “We think this will be a great option, espe­cially for stu­dents who have special dietary needs. With the elim­i­nation of most self-serve, we’ve really had to cook more indi­vid­ually for stu­dents who have special dietary needs so we think that with the mobile app we can elim­inate some of the waiting in line and some of the trep­i­dation of coming to a chef and asking for some­thing to be gluten-free. We think we can better serve the student com­munity through that.” 

Instruc­tions on how to download and use the app were pro­vided in the Student Activ­ities Office newsletter. There is no upcharge to use the mobile ordering service. 

Other plans for the semester include the pos­si­bility of soft-serve ice cream making a comeback in the cafeteria. 

“We’re hopeful and trying to find a way to bring ice cream back in the safest manner we can through all the extra­neous reg­u­la­tions that we have,” Apthorpe said. “We’re trying to find someone to serve it and put top­pings on. It may not be an everyday thing right away, but it’s absolutely on our radar to get the soft-serve back up and running.” 

Bon Appetit is also making an effort to better serve gluten-free, vegan, and veg­e­tarian stu­dents through more meatless protein and grain options, according to Apthorpe. 

Sophomore Mason Mohon, whose diet is gluten-free, said that while there have been fewer options available this year, he has not had a problem finding food in the cafeteria. 

“Being gluten free for three years, I’ve learned to make do with the options I have in front of me and pick the option that doesn’t have gluten, so I’m used to it already,” Mohon said. “There’s plenty of meat in the cafe­teria and plenty of fruits and vegetables.” 

Another change this semester is bringing back Jitters to Lane Hall. 

“We looked at the numbers,” Apthorpe said. “Jitters was the lowest fre­quented grab-and-go location and there was demand from stu­dents and from faculty to bring coffee back.”

Junior Ben Garfinkle is a barista at Jitters and said he is excited to be back at work. 

“I like coffee service, it’s fun, and I like the culture it builds,” Garfinkle said. “Jitters in par­ticular, I’ve found, has had one of the most prominent cul­tures of the coffee shops on campus. It’s a small space so you get to have a lot of con­ver­sa­tions with people. Being able to be in that part of people’s daily lives is super cool. There’s always some­thing inter­esting cus­tomers tell me so I get to collect little tidbits of life.” 

By bringing back Jitters and increasing food items and ordering options, Apthorpe said he hopes to bring back more com­munity-based dining. 

“Once restric­tions are loosened our goal is to go back to trying to serve at the cafe­teria and keep to-go options outside of the Knorr Dining Room,” Apthorpe said. “We want to bring this back to com­munal dining and plates and glasses as soon as we can. But obvi­ously the rules change quickly and often without warning.”