With the beginning of a new academic year, Sodexho Food Services has implemented several changes in the Carte Blanche program. Sodexho hopes to appease students who battled implementation of the meal plan last year.
The first change is the extension of dining hall hours. Last year, Eickhoff Dining Hall closed at 8 p.m., resulting in many student complaints about the fact that it was not open after classes ending at 8:20 p.m. In response, Sodexho extended dining hall hours in Eickhoff Hall to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday to accommodate the late classes.
“Sodexho and the College heard the problems some Carte Blanche students were having making it to Eickhoff before 8 p.m. during the week, and we wanted to respond,” Steve Hugg, marketing director, said. “This year, we’ve reorganized our service hours to allow for an extra hour on the nights students should need it most – Sunday through Thursday.”
According to Hugg, students will be served until 9:15 p.m., but the right side of the cafeteria will close at 8:15 p.m. For the remaining hour, students will be able to go to the left side, which features the salad and soup bar and the International, Pizzarette and Balance stations.
Travers/Wolfe Dining Hall, on the other hand, will be losing an hour, as it now opens at 6 p.m. instead of 5 p.m., last year’s opening time.
The other major change is what Sodexho calls the Meal Equivalency Swipe, available for students enrolled in the Carte Blanche plan.
Between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., students can use the plan in three different locations, Brower Food Court, the Rathskellar and the Library Caf?. The plan can pay for up to $4.75 worth of food on one trip each day.
According to Hugg, students who do not want to eat in Eickhoff Dining Hall all the time can use the Meal Equivalency Swipe to allow them to eat in another dining area without having to use points. If, however, a student buys something for more than $4.75 and wishes to use Meal Equivalency, he or she must pay the difference using points, cash, or Gold Club.
“Sometimes, students want to be able to eat with friends who aren’t on Carte Blanche,” Hugg said. “Sometimes they want to be able to grab a sandwich and a soda without coming to Eickhoff Dining Hall. Even though Eickhoff has the most variety of ready-to-eat food on campus, sometimes they may just want something from the Rat, the Food Court or, when it opens, the Library Caf?. Meal Equivalency allows for all of this.”
According to John Higgins, general manager, about 135 people used the Meal Equivalency Swipe during the first day of classes.
“The response was fantastic,” he said. “The students picked up the concept quickly.”
The final change for the academic year comes in the variety of the foods offered in Eickhoff and the other dining halls.
Hugg said most colleges use a three- or four-week cycle with food, causing different items to be repeated every few weeks.
Instead, Sodexho has implemented a “CustaMenu” program, involving a 16-week menu and eliminating the need for the cycles. The menu will include traditional favorites as well as other items that students request to be repeated.
“Sodexho describes CustaMenu as an ‘ever-changing menu,'” Hugg said. “It allows Chef Catalina and our culinarians to utilize seasonal ingredients, and give students even more variety. Now you won’t be able to walk into Eickhoff and say, ‘Oh, it’s meatloaf Monday again.'”
In addition, Hugg said Sodexho is working to provide more healthy choices for students. The first step, he said, is switching from oil to a vegetable broth for use in cooking at the International Station.
Sodexho will also be providing nutrition facts on foods in the Travers/Wolfe Dining Hall as well as finding out more about food allergies to provide students with many options from which to choose.
There were also many requests from students to put the Travers/Wolfe Dining Hall on the Carte Blanche program.
According to Hugg, although Sodexho considered it, logistically it wouldn’t be possible because of lack of space and the price it would cost the company to accommodate the request.
Although both Hugg and Higgins said they are confident in the new changes, they encourage students with comments to contact them or other supervisors through the Web site (tcnjdining.com) or on the comment cards available at dining locations.
“One of the most depressing things we hear is a student who tells us of an issue days or weeks later that could have easily been handled at the time,” Hugg said. “We try to do what we can to make the student happy, but it’s so much easier to address a concern at the time and location it occurs.”