Dining and food options experienced some pretty big changes this semester.
As we’re now several weeks into the semester, surely most, if not all students have noticed the change. Between the student center, the dining commons and the all-new taco truck, Taylor dining is looking drastically different than it did a year ago.
Many of the changes made — mainly in the dining commons — were made for reasons related to COVID-19, such as social-distanced lines, no self-served lines and limited lines for food.
However, other changes made — mainly in the student center — raised some eyebrows. The elimination of Chick-fil-A salads and wraps seemed to be a point of frustration for many students.
Stephen Olson, associate vice president of business development and service, spoke on the updated Chick-fil-A menu in an email.
“It is true that the CFA has a slightly more limited menu right now,” Olson wrote. “Corporate CFA has given all licensed stores the option of reducing their menu for a few months in order to adapt to new COVID procedures and to ensure that speed of service is not impacted. During second semester the normal menu should be back and available either through meal swipes or dining dollars.”
It’s hard to argue that certain changes were inevitable due to the global pandemic. But it’s also hard to argue that certain changes also made it harder for some individuals to find a decent meal.
In the Echo article, “Changes in Dining Commons,” published on Sept. 15, Olson spoke on Taylor’s pursuit of intentional mealtimes.
“We pride ourselves on intentional community and mealtimes are often a very intentional time,” Olson said.
The article also detailed that Taylor dining staff “worked all summer on a response to the COVID-19 crisis.”
As the semester continues on, the university has done whatever they can to ensure that “intentional community and mealtimes” are preserved.
At the beginning of the semester, Sarah Wordhouse, sophomore, found it difficult to eat in community. She often found herself sitting in a specially designated part of the DC — specifically for those who wished to eat at “The Zone” — due to her dietary restrictions.
“Food is communal and I don’t want to eat a meal by myself,” Wordhouse said in an interview with the Echo. “I love Taylor...we just need to hear each other.”
Since Sept. 15, The Zone has returned to the DC, allowing students to eat in community with their peers.
In an email, Olson specified that these changes were made primarily in response to student feedback.
“We definitely received feedback early in the semester regarding the allergen-sensitive foods that were formally at the Zone,” Olson wrote. “We responded to the feedback by placing Zone items in the Braden room (and they are still available in the main lines as well). Any student with special diet needs can always speak to the chef or the directors, and they will do their best to accommodate those needs.”
However, other changes, such as a reduced menu at Chick-fil-A, are still causing hardships for students.
“As someone with a food allergy to gluten, Taylor dining was already difficult to navigate, but this year it feels almost impossible to get what I need from either the DC or student center,” said Ty Tjoelker, junior. “Some of the options that were taken away this year, such as the Chick-fil-A salad among others, were staples in my diet.”
Tjoelker continued by saying that cuts in the dining area made finding essential nutrients even harder, and that this year feels “quite different” than past years.
Olson added that feedback is helpful in navigating the situation, and that, ultimately, the university is looking out for the wellbeing of students.
“As we make our way through the pandemic landscape, you can expect to see more changes, including bringing back certain items and options,” Olson said. “Please know that we and the dining directors are very open to constructive feedback.”