U. takes fresh approach to dining

Student food plans will be simpler next year and include weekend dining, to reflect student preferences. Dining Services effected the changes as part of a major overhaul announced March 19 by the Office of Business Services of how Penn serves up food.

Student lifestyle dictated some of the changes, said Marie Witt, associate vice president for business services.

"Breakfast is not a very popular meal anymore," Witt said. "A lunch in between classes, a dinner and then a late-night option is really what students are choosing."

Next year's food plans, endorsed by the Dining Advisory Board, which is comprised of students, faculty and staff, will allow students to choose up to four weekend meals -- brunch and dinner each day -- as well as up to 15 meals during weekdays. Students can select plans with reduced numbers of meals as well, said Larry Moneta, associate vice president for campus services.

And Dining Dollars for use at Chats and McClelland will continue next year, eventually to become part of a "more comprehensive approach using Penn Cash on the Penn Card for these late-night options and the Perelman Quad," Witt said.

The changes follow a comprehensive food service study, which assessed student, faculty and staff preferences several ways. "We ran focus groups, interviews, intercept surveys [asking questions of people stopped on the street] and telephone surveys, with a total of 1,500 student contacts," Witt said.

Representatives from the Undergraduate Assembly, GAPSA, A-1 and A-3 assemblies and a resident faculty member gave input as members of a steering committee on dining services changes.

Coming in 1999, Perelman Quad will offer standards like hearth-oven pizza and grilled items, but also food that changes with trends. "If Thai noodles are in fashion, they will serve Thai noodles," said Larry Moneta. Perelman will also include grab-and-go items like bottled juices and pre-packed salads.

The company chosen to operate food services at Perelman Quad is Bon Appétit, a San Francisco company known for freshly prepared, restaurant-style foods. The company, which also will serve as the University's partner and advisor for Dining Services, will bring its style to other campus dining locations.

Originally published on April 2, 1998