When Clark students return to their regular campus routines and rhythms, food, as always, will remain near the top of their priority list.
During the fall semester, Clark Dining Services addressed the challenge of serving hundreds of tasty, healthy meals while operating within the confines of the pandemic. Outdoor dining, takeout meals, enhanced cleaning, and strict protocols for moving through the service and dining areas were all part of the solution to running an efficient and safe dining operation.
There were learning pains — in particular, complaints about portion sizes and restricted food choices. A number of those concerns were addressed throughout the semester, including in response to the recommendations made by a committee of students and administrators who regularly evaluate dining operations.
Clark Dining Services has refined and added to their offerings for the spring, while continuing with the features that worked well in the fall. Here are 12 things students should know:
1. Still hungry? Get more.
Through the Double Up! program, students can ask for double portions as they move through the line in the Higgins Café. Michael Newmark, general manager of Clark Dining Services, notes that students can be served as much food as they wish at multiple stations — salad, pizza, and a kosher meal, for instance.
2. Consult with a dietitian
Campus dietitian Kristen Chulada offers individual counseling and support for students with questions about their dietary needs, restrictions, and challenges. She is available by appointment for consultations via phone or Zoom. Chulada also partners with various campus groups, such as Athletics and the Center for Counseling and Personal Growth, to conduct virtual presentations. Contact Chulada here.
3. Halal meat is back
Halal meat is available at all meal periods. According to Newmark, cold chicken is available at the salad bar and served hot at various stations throughout the semester. Halal hamburgers will be served on request at the Higgins grill.
4. More variety
Newmark notes that student requests for more variety are being met. The “cycle” menu has gone from two and a half weeks to five weeks, which doubles the menu options compared to last semester. Says Newmark, “We heard you.”
5. Expanded salad bar
More fruits and seasonal vegetables have been introduced to the salad bar. If you have suggestions for further additions, contact Newmark.
6. Eat twice (swipe twice)
Unlike last semester, students can now eat at the Higgins Café twice during the same meal period, either on site or takeout. You simply need to swipe twice. Each swipe counts as a meal, though, so be sure to budget your meal swipes to last for the whole week.
7. Have fun!
Clark Dining will celebrate special themes with customized menus and giveaways throughout the semester, beginning with the Welcome Back Carnival dinner on March 10. The menus at each station will be enhanced to echo the carnival theme and the décor will reflect the festive occasion (expect balloons). Watch for other food-specific events like Cereal Day (to be held this Sunday) and Meatball Day. Check out @clarkdining on Instagram for the monthly events.
8. Kosher menu on the Bite app
The delicious kosher offerings of chef Siliva Avinoam have always been a big draw in the Higgins Café. This semester, you can check Clark’s kosher menu on the Bite app.
9. Preorder from the Bistro
Whether you have a meal plan or are paying by credit card, you now have the option to preorder food from the Bistro using the Bite app — you can grab-and-go even more quickly than before.
10. Breakfast for dinner
Pancakes and eggs for dinner? Sign us up! In response to student surveys, Clark Dining will frequently be offering breakfast items at dinnertime. Just follow the smell of the syrup.
11. More vegan options
Clark is now featuring more vegan selections, including a vegan dessert at all meals and more frequent servings of falafel. “We have a growing vegan population at Clark, and the student-led dining committee has been vocal about having more vegan options. We’re happy to have added these to the menu,” Newmark says.
12. The Clean Team is back
When you’re at a Clark dining location, know that every effort is being made to give you a safe and healthy environment in which to chow down. For that, we can thank the Clean Team, whose members clean and sanitize seats, tables, and various touchpoints in the dining and service areas.