Open forum held to discuss upcoming meal plan changes

The forum on meal plan options, held in the Cinema, was an involved discussion of the current and potential food options for students.

Photo by David Baldwin.

On Wednesday, Sept. 19, Director of the Warch Campus Center Greg Griffin and Bon Appetit General Manager Julie Severance hosted a forum on student meal plan options. It was the second of three forums—the first was on Sunday, Sept. 18, and another will be held on Thursday, Sept. 27.

The forum was intended to gather student suggestions for changes to food service and meal plans for the 2019-20 school year. While only four students attended, an involved discussion took place.

Griffin prefaced the forum by saying that Lawrence’s food service is long overdue for an update and that many of the changes this year are intended to be temporary.

He said of the Cafe’s new express line, for instance, “That’s literally a one year operation, and it will be gone next year…We said, ‘We need this. How do we make it work for a year?’ And that will work as a test for us, and then we can do it the right way next year.”

The forum began with the topic of hours for Kaplan’s Cafe, Kate’s Corner Store and Andrew Commons.

A student athlete said that the Commons’ 7:45 p.m. closing time for dinner was inconvenient, since his and many other athletes’ practices end around that time. He suggested that if the Commons were open just a half-hour longer, it would make a huge difference to them. Beyond this, the students seemed happy with Lawrence’s food service hours.

A larger discussion dealt with changes that could be made to the Cafe, Commons and Corner Store. Regarding the Commons, one student brought up Lawrence’s rising Jewish population and recommended a kosher kitchen option.

Another suggested a larger omelet station area, since the line for the area can get long. Griffin said that, currently, four hot plates for the omelet station is all that space can handle, but he’d be interested in expanding the space due to its popularity.

He also brought up the idea of a demonstration kitchen, saying, “You could learn cooking techniques with a chef standing right in front of you—during quieter times, of course. You could learn the art of making pasta sauce, or something like that.”

Few had much they’d like to change about the Corner Store, except one student who suggested they sell Mexican sodas again. Severance recommended that students suggest things like this to the Corner Store staff: “The staff has a notebook, and they’ll take your suggestions any time. If we can make those changes, we will immediately.”

Regarding the Cafe, one student brought up its lack of healthy food options. Griffin replied, “That’s because of the kitchen limitations. We need a bigger kitchen.” Many complaints about the Cafe ended up going back to its small kitchen size, which makes it possible that a larger Cafe kitchen will be built for the 2019-20 school year.

The forum ended with a discussion of meal plans. Most suggestions involved the proportion of meal swipes to culinary cash, such as one student recommending a customizable meal plan. Severance explained, however, that Bon Appetit needs a guaranteed amount of money to purchase their food, so the existence of fixed meal plan options is not likely to change.

Griffin, asked, however, “Would you be willing to pay more—if you were able—to have unlimited swipes?” Most students responded positively, so this is likely an additional option that Griffin and Severance will seriously consider.

If you have any suggestions for changes to food service or meal plans at Lawrence, you can contact Greg Griffin at griffing@lawrence.edu. Julie Severance or any of the other Bon Appetit managers are also available to talk outside the Commons during any meal time.

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