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6 Ways Dining Services Freshened Up For Fall

By Maya Pottiger ’17, M.Jour. ’20

Illustration of noodles, burrito, M tote bag, kitchen mixer, calendar and bowl of fruit

Illustrations by Jason Keisling

Dining Services is rolling out at least a half-dozen new initiatives this school year, including international menu items, the addition of Qdoba and a transition from plastic to paper products.

Along with “Where did I leave my headphones?” and “How is everything on campus uphill?” many students who just headed back to class also asked themselves this: “What am I going to eat?”

The university’s Department of Dining Services, which aims to keep its offerings to the campus community literally and figuratively fresh, will roll out at least a half-dozen new initiatives this school year, ranging from international cuisine to special dinner menus.

“I have a feeling I’m going to be experimenting with different flavors in my meals a whole lot more in the dining halls,” said Bart Hipple, assistant director of dining services.

Illustration of noodles and chopsticks in takeout box1. Fresh Flavors
Following the success of its “Year of Immigration” theme in 2018–19, Dining Services will add more international cuisine this year. Feedback from the “Destination Maryland” event showed that students crave more spicy, global options. Some of the new international menu items are Thai curries, beef and chicken shawarma, lamb flatbread with tzatziki, and 10 varieties of street tacos. In addition, a vegan option will be available for every lunch and dinner special. “Our students who have selected to eat vegan are paying for a full dining plan and should be able to fully experience Maryland Dining,” Hipple said.



Illustration of an M tote bag2. Sustainable Sips
Dining Services is always looking for new ways to reduce its impact on the environment, whether through the organic Terp Farm, sustainable food purchasing, or composting in the dish rooms. This year, the big push is to cut pollution by eliminating plastic straws and plastic bags from campus cafes and convenience shops. This effort will be aided by the Ocean Friendly Campus Initiative, a grant supported by the UMD Sustainability Fund. The grant will be used over a two-year period to help transition from plastic to paper products, which are more expensive. All students with a dining plan can also get a free reusable shopping bag, just by swiping their university ID card at one of the campus convenience shops.



Illustration of burrito3. Queso Quest
This fall, the food court at Stamp Student Union will welcome the addition of Qdoba Mexican Eats. It will replace Taco Bell and Auntie Anne’s, whose leases had expired and where student interest had been declining. Dining Services and the Stamp worked with student advisory boards to find out what brands students were interested in seeing in the food court, Hipple said. “By and large, what they really wanted was a more upscale experience than Taco Bell, but they liked those flavors,” Hipple said.



Illustration of kitchen mixer4. Chef Takeover
At least once a month over the year, one of the campus chefs will take over a dining hall station and create a new, customized menu. This signature meal will consist of an entree, a side and potentially a dessert. The takeover includes identifying the sources of the food, then planning, producing and personally serving the meal. The first Chef Takeover is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 20.



Illustration of a bowl of fruit5. Maryland Fresh
Football fans will be treated to a new permanent food fixture in Maryland Stadium this season. Maryland Fresh—previously a table and a refrigerator under a tent—will move into a full-fledged stand and offer salads, fruit cups and fresh wraps. “It’ll be offering more healthy selections to fans who want a healthier option while they’re watching a game,” Hipple said. The stand will be located inside the concourse behind the big scoreboard in the end zone. Maryland Fresh will accept Terrapin Express.



Illustration of a calendar6. Rotation, Rotation, Rotation
Across all three dining halls, students will notice an expanded menu this year. Rather than repeating menus every three weeks, with roughly 2,000 options, the three dining halls will now use a four-week rotation menu offering nearly 2,600 options – all in addition to the specials, events, food courts and athletic concessions.





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