Boston College Dining Services unveiled its plans for the future of BC Dining with a Menus of Change Culinary Showcase on Wednesday night at Corcoran Commons, Stuart Dining Hall, and McElroy Dining Hall.
In a partnership with the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative and Undergraduate Government of BC ambassadors, BC Dining hopes to revolutionize the way students eat at BC by creating more sustainable and nutritious options.
“It’s not just feeding people—we’re also trying to educate people about making better and healthier choices and explain that, you know, we’re not asking people to be vegetarians,” said Elizabeth Emery, director of BC Dining. “We’re just asking them to think about increasing the amount of vegetables and plant-based proteins in your diet.”
With a focus on different aspects of sustainability each month, BC Dining hopes to offer students more nutritional, flavorful, and sustainable meals. The month of September will focus on buying fresh and seasonal local foods to reduce environmental impact and support local farmers, while providing the students with more flavorful produce that has more nutritional value.
Students standing in line in Corcoran Commons could be heard discussing the changes and what they thought.
“I’ve heard that there’s a lot of monotony in the menu,” said Elena DiBenedetto, the graduate nutrition intern at BC Dining. “And I’ve heard that a lot of people are excited about the change, because it’s giving people who are meat-eaters, and who are vegan, options where they can pick the same menu item and both enjoy it.”
After surveying students as they left the dining hall, Carolyn Townsend, director of environment and sustainability for UGBC and MCAS ’17, found that students weren’t as excited about the new food as she had anticipated.
Students will still be able to find more traditional foods in addition to the new options, Emery said.
“There will be lots of options and a lot of the favorites will still be there, but we’re trying to add some of these healthier, more sustainable options to what we’re offering,” she said.
Student feedback is also encouraged, Emery said. This year, BC Dining is creating a dining advisory board to create a forum for students to voice concerns about dining hall food.
“The more student feedback we get, the better we’ll be,” Emery said.
The variety of healthy choices included a fusion burger—which is half grain and half meat—grain bowls, and tofu and meat skewers.
According to Emery, BC brought the fusion burger to the dining halls after trying it at Grateful Burger in Beverly, Mass. The production of the burger reduces water waste, has 50 percent fewer calories, 50 percent less fat, and 65 percent lower cholesterol.
“I tried a sample of the fusion burger before ordering it, and it tasted a little different,” Matt Chilton, CSOM ’18, said. “But when I got the jalapeño burger, which was really good, I couldn’t even tell it was half beef and half veggie”
BC Dining also plans to add more signs to dining halls to show students how to dispose of their trash in an environmentally friendly way.
Menus of Change is a holistic approach to dining on college campuses focused on sustainability, nutrition, and flavor, according to Emery. BC Dining is currently in the midst of implementing the changes. BC Dining staff members will also attend a conference about Menus of Change at Harvard University in October to continue the conversation about how to improve the student dining experience while still maintaining a focus on sustainability.
“People have to make their own choices about what they want to eat,” Emery said. “Everybody deserves a wide range of choices.”
Featured Image by Isabelle Lumb / Heights Staff