The year is off to a delicious start over in the DC, and students are starting to take note. “Keep it up please,” says one napkin note. “Tonight’s food—bok choy, beef, tilapia—is delicious. Whoever cooked them, marry me,” says another. Those anonymous writers are remarking on changes that Dining Services has worked hard to implement, synthesizing years of feedback from students.
The first thing you notice in the “new and improved” DC is that there is no longer any redundancy. That means there is only one dedicated hot meal line, one make-your-own deli sandwich area (complete with toasters and panini presses), and one salad bar.
If that means people sometimes have to wait in brief lines, as they did on a recent “make-your-own bahn mi” day, that’s ok because it is in service of students having more options. (And those Vietnamese sandwiches were worth the wait.) In lieu of multiple hot-meal lines and salad bars, there is now a new prepared salads station, where appealing, heathy options, such as kale and quinoa salad, butternut squash and smoky black bean salad, and kale caesar with oven-roasted chickpeas, are proffered. At dinner that composed salad space is replaced by a “heathy choice” section that includes plain grilled chicken (and occasionally, fish), brown rice or quinoa, and a fresh vegetable.
Some of those vegetables (and the fresh fruits that are offered at every meal) come from local farms, as they long have. But Dining Services is now not only offering more local produce, but is also noting its existence for the first time on small chalkboards, so students can see the College’s commitment to homegrown, nutritious food. In fact, some of the vegetables come from only a few hundred feet away from the D.C., as they are grown on the Haverford College Farm.
“We have been able to use several varieties of leafy greens in our composed salads,” says Anthony Condo, associate director of Dining Services, of the partnership with the Haverford College Farm. “Some examples are Swiss chard, spinach, kale, and mustard greens. One day, we got a shipment of zucchini and squash and put that to good use as well.”
New sustainable fish options, such as cod, monkfish, and rockfish, are the basis for several hot entrees, and freshly made pizzas are now available at every meal. (The pizzas are especially popular; at the beginning of the semester Dining Services were going through about 140 a day! That number has topped off at about 100 pizzas per day more recently.) There is also fresh-brewed, unsweetened, organic ice tea in addition to the sodas, juices, and hot beverage options.
Dining Services has received a lot of positive feedback on these changes, but their work isn’t over yet.
“These changes are not the end,” says Condo. “One of our goals is to constantly try to change in order to stay fresh and offer variety. Students can expect to see several changes throughout the year, based on seasonality. In this business you are never ‘there.’ You have to keep working to find new ways to reinvent yourself.”
Photos by Caleb Eckert ’17 and Rae Yuan ’19