Dining Services Update Sept. 17, 2021

Dear Students,

We are well aware that many of you have experienced longer meal lines and fewer food choices than would normally be the case.

Regional and national conditions have conspired to jam things up in unprecedented ways. In addition to a regional labor shortage, Williams Dining Services is also contending with Covid’s continuing effects on agriculture, fuel costs, imports, and manufacturer labor markets, which have disrupted national supply chains and limited our access to some menu items.

We are making adjustments to respond to these challenges and ensure our students’ nutritional needs are being met.

Our initial steps are outlined below:

Additional Mission Meal Period
Mission will also be open on Sunday for the remainder of the fall semester, for brunch 11:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m. and dinner 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Shortening Dining Hall Lines
We are also changing buffet setups from double stations to one cohesive buffet, which will make it easier for you to serve yourself efficiently, and therefore significantly shorten wait times.

Fixing Get App Errors/Swipes at Lee’s, ’82 Grill, & Eco Cafe
We’re increasing meal capacity in ’82 Grill and Lee Snack Bar. This will reduce the frequency of GET App “capacity limit” messages, which have been frustrating. (We’re also increasing capacity limits at those venues on the app, since we’re seeing fewer faculty and staff walkups than expected.)

We’re also adjusting the number of GET orders we can receive at any given time, to reduce the number of order cancelations due to items being sold out.

Expanded Use of Points
Starting September 27, you’ll be able to use points that will be added to your account after “meal plan change week” (September 20th-24th). Twenty-One Meal Plan Holders will receive $100 in EPH Points; 14-Meal Plan Holders will receive $60 in EPH Points. These can be used in vending machines around campus, for walk-up purchases in our retail spaces (for snacks such as yogurts and trail mix), and to buy breakfast items at Eco Cafe. Since laundry’s now free, we encourage you to apply more of your points toward food instead.

We have heard from many students about the prohibition against going through Whitmans’ multiple times. This was implemented to sustain traffic flow and comply with legal capacity limits. We continue to evaluate alternatives, but this needs to stay in place for now.  Please, remember that there are no limits on the amount of food you can select on the way through.

Whitmans’ is also the only dining hall that offers trays, clamshells and plates as options, so that you can take food home and reheat it in your micro-fridge.

Also, coffee and the condiments island have been located just outside of Whitmans’, so you can always go back for more of those things without creating a bottleneck in the main dining area.

Expanding Late-Night
We’re working to extend our Late-Night menu to include black bean quesadillas (vegetarian, gluten-free, and freshly made on site), salad (lettuce, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, chickpeas) burgers and rolls, Halal burgers, made-to-order hotdogs, chicken tenders, and spiral fries.

This is the college’s problem to solve, and we apologize for the challenges. The steps above are some of the measures we’re taking to reduce congestion and move people through more efficiently while ensuring that you each can also get what you need to eat.

We’ll continue to look for additional steps and adjust the ones we’ve already taken, as students respond and as external factors evolve.

In the meantime, here are a few tips on things you can consider:

  • Use the mobile GET App at Snack Bar to shorten your breakfast and lunch wait.
  • You can also use GET to order a full meal from the Snack Bar from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays if standard lunchtimes do not work with your schedule.
  • Avoid lunch lines at Whitmans’ and Driscoll by using GET to order items from the ’82 Grill or Fresh ’n Go instead.
  • Order items from the ’82 Grill for dinner from 4 p.m. -9 p.m.
  • Try Eco Cafe for Fresh ’n Go: for any weekday needs, just place a GET pre-order the night before and your meals will be ready by 11 am. Pre-orders can be placed Sunday for Monday, Monday for Tuesday, Tuesday for Wednesday, Wednesday for Thursday, and Thursday for Friday.
  • Remember that Mission will now be open on Sunday for the remainder of the fall semester, for brunch 11:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m. and dinner 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Again, we’re committed to meeting these challenges to ensure easy access to plentiful and healthful food offerings and sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding.

Temesgen A. Araya
Director of Dining Services

Michael F. Wagner
Vice President for Finance & Operations, Treasurer