On Tuesday, Jan. 23, Brian Conway, director of Dining at Montclair State University held a Dining Committee Meeting at Yella’s.
Students in attendance had the opportunity to share their thoughts, both positive and negative, on dining.
Conway shared the main concern that students mentioned, which was hours of operation. He shared that on the Instagram account, @montclairstateconfessions, someone shared that hardly any locations are open on the weekends.
“The biggest concern regarding dining, a lot of it has to do with hours of operation and what is open and when,” Conway said. “I don’t follow ‘[Montclair State] confessions,’ but someone made a confession that nothing is open on the weekends, but they only named one spot. If you didn’t know, Dunkin’ is open on the weekends. Sam’s [Place], Freeman, Yella’s, The [Red Hawk] Diner is open all day till 1 a.m.”
Conway provided a statement which revealed the gratitude of the dining staff serving the student body.
“The hard-working members of the dining staff are grateful to have the opportunity to serve the students of Montclair State University,” Conway said. “We thank everyone who has shared their dining experiences with us, which have been overwhelmingly positive.”
Some students shared their biggest concerns regarding dining. Cindy Mendoza, a freshman nursing major, shared that she wishes there was more Latin food and healthier options at Montclair State.
“I feel like more Latin food, like they were talking [about] inside, changing the Chick N Bap area to Latin food, which I think is a good idea,” Mendoza said. “And then also healthier options, like not just like Freshen’s and I know a little section in Sam’s [Place], but everywhere on campus. I feel like there’s a lot of burgers and fries everywhere and not a lot of healthy options.”
Amy Gandia, a freshman public health major, expanded on Mendoza’s ideas.
“Healthier options for me means something like an ideal look of Freeman,” Gandia said. “Freeman has very diverse options for people with allergens and just like healthier options in general, if you want to have a salad you can also have a side of mac [and cheese] or something like that.”
She believes healthier options should be implemented in Sam’s Place.
“I think that should be more implemented in Sam’s [Place],” Gandia said. “You see a lot of buffet style, pizza, stuff like that which isn’t a healthier option and I think it’s good to practice that in college because outside of that you’re going to need that healthier option.”
Gandia expressed the diversity of Montclair State and wants that to be shared in food.
“We are a diverse campus and we are known as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) mainly and I think it’s important to show the diversity within food,” Gandia said. “I think especially in Latin culture we find food is the number one way to your heart and so I think that’s really important to introduce that into college and just let people know who we are through food.”
Gael Vasquez, a freshman marketing major, asked a handful of insightful questions throughout the meeting. He shared that his biggest concern would be the customization options at Yella’s.
“Customization options on Yella’s, different sauces, toppings, all that just to add more to the sandwich to make our own,” Vasquez said. “I know they’ve tried to make it their own brand and stuff which makes sense, but I also want to make my own.”
Conway shared what the process was like when suggestions are given. He shared that a conversation is the biggest factor.
“As simple as a conversation,” Conway said. “When a concern is brought to me, depending on the area of where it is I’ll take the conversation to the specific location and have the conversation.”
Conway gave an example if students requested to get rid of bread at one of the dining locations.
“[For example] ‘Oh we don’t wanna see bread anymore in this location,’ we’ll take it to the manager and she’ll say ‘Well listen, we had 10 people say they wanted the bread, well let’s put it in more isolated areas where they can still access it but it’s not as blatant as you see it,'” Conway said. “But what I’m saying is, if a concern is brought to our attention, we immediately look to remedy it, no matter what it is.”
Conway emphasized that students should try each of the dining locations at Montclair State and take advantage of meal plan options.
“We encourage all guests to try out each of our locations for their unique menus and experiences and to learn about all the benefits of the meal plans which include dietician and nutritional services, mindful eating seminars, giveaways and events to name a few,” Conway said.
Conway explained that student input is key to the future of Eats by Gourmet Dining Services.
“The future of this dining program is being driven by student input,” Conway said. “Our hope is that everyone gets involved and we make this into an award-winning dining program spearheaded by the students of Montclair State University.”