Hillsdale College will have a new food service this fall, the first time it has changed in eight years. Metz Culinary Management will replace Bon Appétit, according to a July 18 announcement from the college.
In 2014, Hillsdale switched food providers from Saga Inc. to Bon Appétit. The college planned to renew its contract with Bon Appétit, but Tim Wells, Hilldale’s associate vice president for Administrative Affairs, said the college had concerns about Bon Appétit’s trajectory.
“We came to the conclusion that changing would be a good and wise decision,” Wells said.
The Pennsylvania-based company provides food to businesses, healthcare facilities, and educational institutions, according to its website. Metz serves 58 colleges, including Albion College and the University of Detroit Mercy.
Wells said he is confident in the college’s decision to switch to the family-operated company.
“The goal is to come in and have you guys [the students and guests] be happy,” said Maureen Metz, executive vice president of Metz Culinary Management.
Metz said her team hopes to support the mission and values of the college through its dining services. Metz employees hope “to foster an atmosphere and attitude that promotes a strong sense of community and family,” Metz said.
Wells said he agrees food plays an important role in the Hillsdale community.
“What food provides at Hillsdale College is integral to what we do, specifically regarding students and outreach,” Wells said.
Many students said they are optimistic about the change.
“If they have gluten-free food in Saga and can keep the A.J.’s kitchen open, I will be a fan,” sophomore and A.J.’s Cafe employee Kenda Showalter said.
Students with dietary restrictions will be taken care of, Metz said, as her company uses a recipe database called Nutritics to help prepare meals. The website will also have a section where students can see the daily menu. The menu will include details on the dietary guidelines for all of the food offered.
“We also have an allergen declaration form on our website,” Metz said in an announcement from the college. “This form connects our guests with our chef, who will reach out to talk about their concerns and, if needed, make special accommodations.”
The company will also accommodate students by serving food at A.J.‘s and Jitters.
“At A.J.‘s Café 1844, students can enjoy made-to-order sandwiches, burgers, steaks, and chicken sandwiches, pizzas, smoothies, and a full line of grab-and-go and heat-and-eat Chef Fresh meals,” Metz said.
Chef Fresh meals are a new addition to the cafe, including sandwiches, salads, fruit cups, and parfaits, as well as meals that include an entree and sides that can be heated up to eat at a later time, Metz said. Jitters will continue to offer coffee, as well as Chef Fresh meals, snacks, drinks, and live well fuel options – foods which are low in calories, sodium, and saturated fats. Metz said students can use Charger Change and meal swipes to purchase grab-and-go items.
Senior Justin Nater said he is relieved about the new options.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what Metz has to offer for athletes and gym-goers,” he said.
The Metz website also outlines that the company plans to “transition approximately 35% of meat-based meals to plant-based alternatives by 2025.”
This should not concern students, Wells said.
“The 35%, that is not a mandatory component or requirement of the Metz food service program,” Wells said. “We will partner with Metz to provide an offering that prioritizes the college and student body.”
“Your campus is not going to be 35% plant-based,” she said.
Sophomore Emily Griffith said she will continue to call the dining hall “Saga.”
“It’s just muscle memory now, and I’m sure new students will simply pick up on what’s repeated all around them,” she said.
Junior Brooke Hillis said that though much is changing at the dining hall, what students call it will never change.
“I am looking forward to a new food company and I am hopeful it will be better,” junior Brooke Hillis said. “I will still call the cafeteria Saga regardless.”
The Metz team is making a plan to take student feedback into account through text, conversations, its website, and feedback cards. Metz’ website, hillsdalemetz.com, will provide menus, hours of operation, and more, according to Metz.