BY JOSHUA CILIBERTI
A brand new semester has arrived, and with that come some big changes to the university’s on-campus dining scene.
On July 26 university dining services posted, “We may have a few surprises up our sleeves for when you get back,” on their Instagram page.
Now, in early September, many students and staff have attested that those surprises have resulted in a more diverse, convenient and expanded dining experience for all Blue Hens with meal plans.
“A lot of our changes have been based off student feedback,” Jennifer Mackiewicz, the marketing manager for dining services, said.
Throughout the 2023 spring semester, dining services hosted “Be Heard” and “Your Voice Counts” sessions where students were given the opportunity to share their thoughts about on-campus dining.
“Everyone’s hands would shoot up, and it would either be about meal exchange or bringing back late-night,” Mackiewicz said.
Once a staple of on-campus dining before the COVID-19 pandemic, this semester marks the return of late-night dining at Russell and Pencader dining halls due to an increase in staffing.
Late-night dining is offered Monday through Thursday from 9 to 11 p.m. and will feature a more limited menu as compared to regular operating hours.
“I have many friends that have chemistry labs from 5 to 8 p.m. or other classes that go on later,” sophomore communications major Ansh Dhelia said. “I’ll definitely take advantage of late-night hours so I can eat a little later with them sometimes.”
Along with extended dining hall hours are updated meal exchange policies for students on select dining plans including “All-Access” and the “125 Block.”
“Those students can get two meal exchanges per day from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.,” Mackiewicz said. “Students want to be able to use meal exchange more than once a day and they also want to be able to use it all day.”
Similar to past semesters, students on smaller dining plans will only be eligible for one meal exchange per day, offered between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m.
In addition to expanded operating hours and adjusted policies, new dining options across campus are being offered. This fall, students will find Chick-fil-A breakfast available in Trabant University Center along with a new sandwich shop called The Spread, replacing Quiznos Subs, which had been open since 2005.
“I do like more food options,” freshman undecided major Ethan Elkaim said. “Different styles make people want to go more.”
At Perkins Student Center, DE Slider Co. is back in Local Restaurant Row, marking its first return to campus since last fall.
As this retail space operates on a rotating schedule, the location was formerly home to Cheryl’s Southern Style Cuisine, La Casa Pasta, Olé Tapas, Café Tal and International Food Creations.
However, the most significant update to on-campus dining this fall is the university’s mission of becoming more sustainable through a reusable take-out box program called Reuse Pass.
“It will be available in all of our residential dining and two locations in our retail, Ecogrounds and Greens to Go,” Mackiewicz said. “In all of our residential dining halls, it will be a requirement to use a reuse program.”
Registration for the program is through the GrubHub mobile ordering app, where a virtual QR code will be generated. This code must then be scanned at dining hall entrances when requesting a to-go box.
Once opted in, students will be granted two plastic containers and one plastic cup that must be returned to a dining hall within three days of use, although multiple sets can be checked out at once.
“I think what UD is doing regarding reusable boxes is a great idea,” Dhelia said. “It’s much better for the environment.”
Even with all the new changes happening across the university’s dining scene, dining services encourages all students to stay connected and provide feedback.
“We have an ongoing survey,” Mackiewicz said. “There are QR codes in all of our dining halls, so if a student wants to leave us feedback, they can just scan them.”