By: Gabby Carlson | Echo
"The 19 meal plan gets $200 (Dining Dollars) and there really wasn't anything to spend your money on," Nate Haugh, director of dining services, said. Haugh has been working hard to change that since his arrival in April.
The first of many changes is the opening of the Hodson Dining Commons continuously from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The options will be much more limited in the slower hours. From 9:30 to 11 a.m. a continental breakfast will be served, and from 2 to 5 p.m. the salad bar, deli, soup, desserts, cereal and fruit will be available. The LaRita Boren Campus Center will also be open at 11 a.m. on Saturdays moving forward.
An unlimited meal plan is also available to those who enjoy more than three meals a day. For $100 more than the 19 meal plan, you can purchase an unlimited meal plan that allows you to enter the dining commons whenever you please and however many times you want. This was originally geared toward athletes who enjoy smaller meals instead of three larger ones, but it is available to anyone through Housing Coordinator Lori Slater's office in Student Development, according to Haugh.
The Campus Center now provides snacks such as Clif Bars, bags of chips, Luna Bars and a fresh case of bottled beverages. Some of these snacks are not included in the meal plan and must be purchased separately, but they all can be purchased with Dining Dollars.
The second addition to the Campus Center is the healthier option of sushi. According to Haugh, the sushi bar is subcontracted out by Advanced Fresh Concepts Franchise Corp (AFC) Sushi, the largest North American franchisor of supermarket-based food service counter concept pioneered by their parent company in 1986, according to AFC'S website.
Haugh's hope is that Chick-fil-A will have shakes by fall break. If not by then, he is sure students will be slurping them this school year.
Haugh most recently worked as the director of dining services at Butler University. He is accompanied by Nathaniel Malone, who was previously the head chef at Butler. Haugh believes the two major issues with Taylor's dining services were the food's quality and variety.
When it comes to the Dining Commons, Malone is working on providing variety as well as making his food allergen friendly. Haugh has gone as far as moving the sandwich station, Deckers, to one side of the salad bar and putting an allergen free station called The Zone where Deckers was.
The Zone is free of the eight major allergens. These include tree nuts, shellfish, gluten, eggs, soy, peanuts, milk/dairy and fish. This area will have at least one meat and two vegetables daily, according to Haugh. Last year, the Dining Commons' special diet chefs prepared upward of 14 individuals' meals one to three times a day. This year, they only prepare meals for one student due to severe allergies not included in The Zone.
This student is senior Olivia Lauritzen. Lauritzen is severely allergic to many foods, including legumes (beans), seeds and greens, which prevents her from being able to eat in The Zone.
Taylor has always catered to her allergies, for which Lauritzen is grateful. However, although the food prepared for her previous to this year did not contain peanuts, her allergy is so severe that it is airborne.
"In the past, the D.C. would often have things like peanut curry, or they'd do the grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and would make it so I couldn't even go in the Dining Commons. My friends would have to go in and grab my dinner for me," Lauritzen said.
With the recent eradication of peanut butter in the Dining Commons, Lauritzen is excited to be able to eat all of her meals where she pleases.
When it comes to quality of food, Malone and Haugh have been working hard through the summer with Taylor's current dining staff. With the shift in director, all previous workers remain.
Haugh is passionate about creating a place where students want to eat, not just where they have to.
"(I want) a food service that's always evolving and keeping up with the trends," Haugh said. "I want it to be something students are excited about."
The dining services are here for the students. Suggestions are welcome through the suggestion boxes in the Dining Commons or through scheduling an appointment with Haugh personally. This can be done by emailing him directly at email@example.com or dropping by his office in the Hodson Dining Commons.