Associated Student Government considers takeout, other dining changes

Jeanne Kuang, Reporter

Associated Student Government is in talks with the administration and campus catering provider Sodexo about potential changes to student dining plans such as providing to-go meals and opening Allison dining hall on weekends.

McCormick junior Alex Van Atta, ASG vice president for student life, attends regular meetings with Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, vice president for student auxiliary services, and Steve Mangan, nuCuisine resident district manager, to improve student dining. ASG is currently working on three potential changes to the dining plans, Van Atta said.

The ideas include increasing the availability of the weekly six-meal plan, which is currently only for students living off-campus or in Greek houses. The change would allow all juniors and seniors residing on campus to purchase the six-meal plan.

“It would be a reduced meal plan available to all,” Van Atta said, adding that the plan gives students more chances to eat off-campus with friends and explore dining options in Evanston.

Van Atta also said ASG is also looking to “install a to-go menu option” in dining halls such as 1835 Hinman.

This would allow students who are in a rush or heading somewhere to study to select a meal and get it to go, he said.

Another possible change would be to open Allison on the weekends instead of 1835 Hinman. Van Atta cited Allison’s kosher food station, larger capacity and central location on campus as reasons to keep it open for weekend dining.

During Fall Quarter, Van Atta supervised a now-disbanded ASG working group that researched dining options at other schools as well as ways to make dining hall hours more convenient on campus.

Now, he and the ASG Student Life Committee will take this information and student feedback into heavy consideration in developing new dining plans. The six-meal plan and Allison dining hours on weekends were popular ideas on Campus Voice, he said, and the to-go idea was inspired by options at other schools such as Washington University in St. Louis.

“The more we hear from students, the better off we can be with dining on campus,” he said.

Van Atta said he meets with Payne-Kirchmeier and Mangan every few weeks to discuss potential changes.

“We consider ASG to be partners with us in the food program because they represent the student point of view,” Payne-Kirchmeier said.

She said the partnership helps the administration “know what the student voice is … and make some substantive changes on behalf of our students.”

Payne-Kirchmeier said the three ideas are still in the exploratory stage, and ASG and administrators must work with NU’s contract with Sodexo in order to make changes.

Mangan said the futures of all three plans remain uncertain.

“I think there’s a strong likelihood of some sort of to-go offer,” he said. “There’s some constraints that are making that difficult … it’s something we’d like to do.”