Dining services leaves much to be desired

Yolanda Torres

Grilled chicken sandwich with chips and a side salad from the Mesquite Dining Hall. Photo by Yolanda Torres.
Grilled chicken sandwich with chips and a side salad from the Mesquite Dining Hall. Photo by Yolanda Torres.

The new dining contract has brought with it a new way to eat at the Mesquite Dining Hall.

One of the biggest changes is the buffet-style serving, a change from previous years where students could only get one entree at a time. The buffet-style serving may take some time to get used to but overall it’s more convenient than the previous system. The self-serve system has its quirks, however. Some lines are open for buffet and others require assistance, but the stations weren’t clearly labeled or explained, leaving me to assume whether or not each station is self-serve.

The layout of the dining hall has also changed and there are a few welcome editions to what is available, including a coffee service machine that dispenses beverages like a caramel macchiato or a latte.

The cafeteria has also started offering a healthier alternative to water and now provides infused water with a different pair of fruits and herbs every day, such as lemon and mist.  The infused water is next to the – finally – labeled tea dispensers. The cucumber-mint infused water was refreshing and something to look forward to each day.

Despite all these minor changes, the entrees were not so different from what was offered during the previous semester.  I had a chicken breast sandwich, which was a nice change from the deep fried patties previously offered. The chicken was grilled and seasoned well, reminding me of something (almost) home cooked. The salad bar did not appear to offer as many toppings as last semester and was not maintained at the same quality, which is saying something. The dressings were severely limited and not labeled. As a person that truly believes in the power of Ranch dressing I was saddened when none was offered and confused as to why that was.

The staff was as friendly as always but there was a disconnect between the service and the students that did not resonate well. If you already have a meal plan, I wouldn’t go through the trouble of canceling it, but I would not recommend a meal plan to someone who doesn’t already have one.

Overall, some of the new additions were pleasant but they were not enough to compensate for the miscommunication and mishaps of the new dining hall. The food is still sub-par and the minor improvements such as the self-serve system and infused water aren’t enough to compensate for the unorganized atmosphere. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it is worse than last year, but it wasn’t very good. All in all, the dining hall is moving in the right direction, but at a snail’s pace.