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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Dick Williams Dishes Out Changes in the D-Hall

harlie Williams ’15 (left) gets his timeslip checked by Eddie Meads before exiting the D-Hall with a to-go box. Photo by Chris Lee.

Dick Williams, Director of Dining Services, has greatly helped to direct the changes made to the Grinnell Dining Hall over the summer. The S&B’s Thanh Mai ’18 spoke with Williams about the changes made to the dining hall and how it has impacted students and staff.

How do you think the D-Hall staff has handled being open continuously all day?

Very well. I think it’s running very smoothly and that the new changes will catch on … We alternate the venues open for light lunch and dinner. One for variety, and one, for a break for the staff in other venues.  In a nutshell, I think the staff has done a great job, and they’ve adjusted and I don’t think there’s any conflict for them. The only thing impacting us, rather than the continuous hours, is more lack of student staff at some points of the day.

Have you received any positive or negative feedback from students about the to-go feature?

Only positive in general terms, a couple people have told me they feel it’s really great so far. Nobody has anything negative about it so far. With the To-Go bar, we set up hours up … differently from most schools, so students are allowed to check out three containers so they wouldn’t have to always bring back their containers every day in case they forget it.  However, we put the containers on their p-card so students can see that these containers have value and return them rather than just throw them away. With this program as well, we no longer have to use the disposable ware that we did in the old program and we instead continuously recycle sustainable products.

What is the purpose of the 10-minute window to get food for to-go boxes?

It controls the amount of time that students are in the dining hall getting food. Any kind of program that you have whether it be dining, library, or such, you have to have some kind of control for their program. And so, in order for the person to get their meal and leave, we have to give them a certain amount of time. It prevents people from getting a to-go box, coming in and eating, and then taking their meals to-go again. So, it prevents them from getting two meals at once. To get the to-go box, though, you have to be on the school meal plan, so keep that in mind.

What happens if you want food from a station that has a long line and would take more than 10 minutes to get through?

Well, you go to another line. I think that we haven’t really had an issue with the 10 minutes since the average person consumes their meal in 10 minutes and usually it’s only longer when a student sits down to socialize with friends. The To-Go line is designed to be quick for students who are in a rush. I don’t really see the 10 minutes as a problem but if you’re in a long line and it takes you 11 minutes we won’t scold you for it. It’s not designed for us to do that. Again, sometimes a line can take two minutes but it will feel much longer.  Another thing we changed this year is that we changed the daily meal plan.  Unlike last year, there is no three-day meal limit and students can grab more meals in a day up to the limit of your meal plan in case they are still hungry or want to eat with friends.

harlie Williams ’15 (left) gets his timeslip checked by Eddie Meads before exiting the D-Hall with a to-go box. Photo by Chris Lee.
harlie Williams ’15 (left) gets his timeslip checked by Eddie Meads before exiting the D-Hall with a to-go box. Photo by Chris Lee.

Do you have any favorite food dishes to recommend?

Well, I’ve been in the business a long time but I think one of my favorite dishes here is meatloaf, which is not quite a modern dish. I also love when we have quesadillas or the tacos because I love soft tacos. … We prepare 90 percent of our foods from scratch and we take pride in the freshness of our foods here.

Are there any other potential changes you have in mind for the D-Hall?

Well, first off, if somebody wants to send us some feedback about the program, we’re open to hear it since we’re starting out as well … I do have a plan I’d like to set in motion, but it’s a bit futuristic. Many schools have it already and it’s called All-Access. I don’t want to get into it too much, but I’m thinking maybe two or three years down the road what it will mean is that the dining hall will be open all day and any day of the week and you come in and eat whenever you want. If you want to eat 25 times a day, you can eat 25 times a day. However, for the ability to come and go as you please as many times as you want, there will be the control that we can’t take out the food. I think most people will understand we can’t have unlimited access to do whatever we want, but anyways, I’d just like to look at that down the road and we’ll look at this with the dining committee with some student input first.

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