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BC Dining Unveils Updates for New School Year

Several changes are coming to Boston College Dining this fall—including the creation of a new Eagle Mart on the first floor of Corcoran Commons. The Market @ Corcoran will replace On The Fly @ Corcoran, which previously operated on the upper floor of the dining hall. The new market will sell fresh produce, groceries, and Starbucks specialty drinks, in addition to featuring a pop-up kitchen space with food options that will change based on student interest. 

BC Dining decided to move the Corcoran Commons mini mart first floor to make it more visible and easier for students to access. Many students didn’t even know where the upstairs market was, said Megan O’Neill, the associate director of Restaurant Operations for BC Dining. 

The Corcoran mini mart was also the smallest Eagle Mart location on campus—the others being CoRo Cafe and Legal Grounds on Newton Campus—even though some students on Lower Campus have kitchens.    

“We wanted to be able to offer more fresh produce and things like that for people to be able to cook,” O’Neill said.

Since one of the things that Dining Services hears the most is that students want variety, they decided to make the new market a pop-up location, rather than offer a set food item, like CoRo Cafe does with pizza.

“We’re going to put in one concept, and when students get sick of it, we’re going to put it in a different concept,” O’Neill said. “So we can change it several times throughout the year.”

The first concept that will be offered in the new market is poke, a Hawaiian fish meal. Students can use a Google Form that BC Dining sent out in an email Monday to suggest other foods they would like to see offered at the new location.

Like CoRo Cafe and Legal Grounds, the Market @ Corcoran will accept Flex Dollars and Dining Bucks, but not Residential Meal Plan funds.

Because The Market @ Corcoran will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and serve coffee and breakfast, The Loft @ Addie’s will no longer serve breakfast, but instead stick to dinner and Late Night. 

Dining Services hopes to have the grand opening for the new market right after Columbus Day, although the schedule is dependent on construction, according to O’Neill.

The Dining Services team has worked hard to address student concerns that there will be less seating available in Corcoran Commons on account of the new market, according to O’Neill. The upstairs and downstairs seating has been reconfigured and tables have been added to the outside plaza to make the total seating capacity 780—only eight seats fewer than before the construction, she said.

A counter with high-top chairs, like the one in Eagle’s Nest, will be added to the first floor of the building, which will add a dozen seats.  

The old upstairs mini mart has already closed, and Dining Services has not finalized its plans for what will go in the space yet, according to O’Neill. Students will be able to use it for seating for the time being, and student groups can also reserve it for meetings by asking the manager.  

Dining has also implemented or expanded several sustainability-related initiatives this fall. For one, students can now buy reusable metal straws, which come with a plastic case and a cleaning brush, at the cash registers in Lower, Stuart, Mac, Hillside Cafe, and the Rat. 

Bamboo utensil sets, which could be purchased at Lower last year, will now be sold at Stuart and Mac as well. The sets come with a fork, a knife, a spoon, and chopsticks.

BC also bought lots of china and silverware over the summer in the hopes that students will use them and put them in them dish return, and not bring them home or put it in them trash, as they have in years past. The trash, recycling, and composting station in Mac has also been relabeled and turned around to face students while they are dining—a decision that was made based on student feedback and that O’Neill said she hopes will also help Dining in its sustainability effort. 

Students can also take part in BC’s Community Supported Agriculture Farm Share, a program that began last year. Through the farm share, students pay a $320 fee and receive a weekly box of seasonal fruits and vegetables from Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, Mass.—the contents of which vary from week to week. Students also have the option to share a box with friends. 

Dining is also implementing other initiatives designed for vegetarians and vegans to know what their options are on campus.

“Some people think we do a great job, some people think we don’t,” O’Neill said. “We actually hired a vegan BC student … who told us that we did a good job, but we had to market it better. She did a project all summer to help us label all of our stuff online and on the digital signage.” 

Dining will also be putting up signs that say “Did you know? This meal can be made vegetarian or vegan” at stations when they are applicable. 

The Green2Go reusable container program, currently offered at Stuart Hall, will also be coming to Lower when the new market opens. Through the program, designed to provide a sustainable alternative to plastic and paper to-go containers, students pay a one-time fee of $9, which allows them to take food to-go in a reusable plastic container. Students can return the container to the dining hall at their convenience, and they will receive a token—a carabiner—that they can use in exchange for a new container.

Students will be able to ask for a G2G container at Addie’s, Lower Live, and The Market @ Corcoran, but the container drop-off will be only at the market. 

Fresh to Table, the local and sustainable food initiative run by BC Dining, will also be expanding this fall. Food sampling and education, which takes place every Wednesday at Lower, will now happen once a month in both Mac and Stuart. 

Hillside Cafe will also be adding some new items: An oatmeal bar featuring oats from Aurora Mills & Farm in Maine and granola from Grandy Oats will soon be available through GET mobile ordering. The cafe is also now serving cinnamon raisin, everything, and plain bagels from One Mighty Mill, a company that uses local flour—growing 84 percent of its wheat in Maine.

“The company is going to be coming in once a week for us after next week, and be doing samplings and giveaway and talking about their company,” O’Neill said. “It’s a really, really neat concept. And we’re the first college to serve them.”

O’Neill said the additions to Hillside help BC Dining work toward its “50 by ’60” goal—that is, having 50 percent of the food served at BC be local by 2060. 

Dining has also started offering two upgrades to the mandatory meal plan: the Maroon plan, in which students can purchase $800 in additional Flex Dollars and receive $80 in bonus ones, and the Gold plan, in which students can purchase $1,200 in additional Flex Dollars and receive a $180 bonus. Unlike the mandatory meal plan funds, the flex dollars roll over to the next academic year. 

The new plans were implemented based on parent and student suggestions over the years, O’Neill said.

“For those that eat more often, or a lot of snacks, or … a lot of protein, things of that nature, this is a really good opportunity for them,” she said. 

The Screamin’ Eagle steak and cheese sandwich will also be served outside Gate E of Alumni Stadium this fall, starting during this Saturday’s home football game against Virginia Tech.

Featured Image by Jack Miller / Heights Editor

August 28, 2019