Dining Services has made many changes to Winslow Dining Hall and the Thoroughbred Room since last semester.
Paula Amols, director of Dining Services and Racer Hospitality, said many more changes will be implemented in the year to come.
“We changed the section of the T-Room we call ‘chicken world’ this semester,” Amols said. “The staff started putting chicken in little cardboard bowls so the portions are consistent and the chicken doesn’t get soggy.”
Amols said similar changes were made to the Mongolian grill in Winslow, which was introduced at the beginning of the fall semester. According to a study Amols conducted, 25 percent of students dining at Winslow choose to eat from the Mongolian grill.
Since the grill is cook-to-order, Amols said food preparation takes longer than in other lines. Staff members have been added to the Mongolian grill to write down orders and keep bowls organized.
Caity Kyle, freshman from Hickman, Ky., said Winslow has become more strict when it comes to employment by ensuring student workers have their hours checked by a manager. Kyle boxes food for Fast Track and the T-Room in the morning and works at the deli in Winslow in the afternoon.
“It helps make sure Winslow isn’t short-handed,” Kyle said.
In addition to the Mongolian grill in Winslow, Dining Services made several changes to the T-Room salad bar last semester. Amols said many more students are purchasing salads in the T-Room compared to last year. Also, students are paying for what they actually get in their bowls, not just the price of the bowl size.
While many changes have been made to the food itself in Dining Services, nutritional awareness has also been a major focus point for Amols. In the T-Room, Dining Services has ensured a vegetarian soup will be available every day and nutritional information is available for the meals.
Amols said it is important for students to practice healthy eating, but there is only so much Dining Services can do.
“I think we hear so much about the benefits of having a good diet,” Amols said. “But we don’t pile it up in one place and say, ‘here’s your healthy stuff.’ It’s up to (students).”
Dining Services has two nutrition students working to improve the availability of food information. Recently, the students have created a dining blog linked to the Dining Services website. The blog includes many topics such as how to replace unhealthy snacks with healthy ones, guides for sodium intake and tips on how to differentiate good and bad cholesterol.
Kyle said Winslow and the T-Room are not what the average students think of when it comes to a cafeteria.
“Students think everything in Winslow is made and frozen,” Kyle said. “That’s not the case. They make most of their food fresh. It’s definitely not like a high school cafeteria.”
Amols said Dining Services is always working to improve meal quality on campus. Many changes, including renovation of the T-Room and a food truck, will be available next year.
This summer, the T-Room will be closed for complete renovations. Dining Services plans to add a fire-brick oven for pizza, pasta bakes and calzones where short-order is currently stationed. Short-order will move and change its menu to include items such as quesadillas.
“(The T-Room) will look completely different,” Amols said. “It’s going to get new floors, ceilings and walls.”
A food truck, called the Pony Express, has been ordered and will be available early next semester. The truck will have more grills and fryers than the T-Room and will include food items such as sandwiches, salads and burgers.
“We’re hoping to take the truck to commuter lots in the mornings so students can grab breakfast to take to class,” Amols said.
Kyle said a food truck would be perfect for students in commuter lots because most students do not have time to go to Winslow in the morning. Dining Services also plans to serve food near the residential colleges on Friday and Saturday nights, since Winslow is not open after 8 p.m.
Amols said she believes all of the changes made, and those implemented in the future, will greatly benefit students.
Story by Lexy Gross, Assistant News Editor.