BY ABBY BAKER ’19
The Blanchard Community Center’s new dining facilities will offer an increased selection of meal options, according to an interview published on the Mount Holyoke website with John Fornini, the project manager for dining services.
According to Fornini, the new center will offer nine food stations with 22 food lines total. The broiler and griddle area will remain similar to the present configuration in Blanchard, but other types of cuisines will be offered in the new space, such as Mexican, Latin and Caribbean food. Additionally, there will be dishes from the Middle East and Mediterranean. There will also be an Asian area, which will have offerings such as sushi and stir fry. A waffle and omelet bar, a cereal area, an area specifically for food free of all eight major FDA food allergens, a deli, salad bar and daily halal meat and Kosher food will be among the new Blanchard offerings.
The implementation of the Blanchard extension has been met with mixed reactions from students.
Kuan-Chi Chen ’19 opposes the implementation of centralized dining, as she believes the current system provides “more convenience than just going to one place [for food].” However, Chen, who is an international student from the municipality of Shanghai in China, said that what she misses most about her home country is the food. She says of the implementation of more diversity in the food Blanchard offers, “I think it’s a way to be inclusive, as long as it’s quality food... I haven’t really had authentic Chinese food at Mount Holyoke, but if the quality is good, then I would be happy.”
Kerstin Lindgren ’19 said that she sees both sides of the controversy. She does have concerns over accessibility, particularly “being that we are in New England and there are snowstorms.” She added, “I’m hoping that there will be more food and it will be hopefully less expensive and cut down on the bill, especially with the tuition increase ... If there’s more options for less money, awesome.”
Regarding the more diverse food options, Lindgren said, “I feel like the dining halls do a pretty good job of having different foods from different places around the world already, but that’s exciting because I love all sorts of different foods ... Hopefully they’ll do an even better job of representing different places that all the students come from across the globe.”
An additional change is that students will have unlimited swipes per day. The program may create less food waste, as students will have unlimited swipes and therefore take less food per meal. Additionally, the College’s method of composting will change. Currently, food compost is brought to a local farm and turned into compost after six months, costing the College money for every pound composted. The new student center will enable a process of dehydrating all compostable food and paper scrap, and the compost will be ready to use within 24 hours. The compost will be used for the College’s landscaping and groundskeeping projects.
The facility will seat 1,000 people and is slated to open for students in January 2018.