NYU Dining’s name change to NYU Eats marks the end of Aramark’s over-40-year era as its dining service provider; it also marks many more substantial changes, from dining hall station switch-ups to a new think-tank group meant to incorporate student input.
After a series of issues with Aramark that began when Lipton Dining Hall failed a health inspection, NYU began the process of switching providers in the spring of 2018 — five years before Aramark’s contract was set to expire. Many student activists expressed the desire for the university to self-provide, due to the final two contenders at the end of last semester — Aramark and Chartwells — having connections to private prisons. NYU President Andrew Hamilton publicly stated that self-providing would be impractical and expensive, and the university went with Chartwells.
With most of the transition process completed over the summer, many dining halls have had at least minor face-lifts, with larger renovations planned as part of the five-year contract between NYU and Chartwells, according to Associate Vice President for Campus Services Owen Moore.
“It’s a new era,” Moore told WSN. “You had a provider that was here for over 40 years, so it’s a change.”
- A new group of administrators, faculty and, predominantly, students, called the Incubator Team will take in student input and look to make improvements to NYU Eats. Their primary focus will be a more affordable meal plan offering, Moore said. (There have been previous efforts to provide this option although it has not been added as of yet.)
- Dining halls will now use completely renewable and compostable plates, bowls, containers and utensils made from reclaimed materials, according to a university press release.
- NYU started working with a company last year to start measuring, recording and analyzing the food waste at each dining hall. Chartwells will make limiting food waste “a primary focus,” according to Moore.
- The university will provide rotating special meal offers in the $3 and $5 price ranges called “Big Meal Deals.”
- “Superfood Tuesdays” will teach recipes and provide tastings of “plant-forward” foods.
- Continuing with its new, catchy names, “Love, NYU Eats” will be a series of pop-up free food offerings across campus.
- There will be free general nutrition counseling and on-site allergen experts.
- Similar to the Open Kitchens project, NYU Eats will have Teaching Kitchens two to three times a semester that provide free cooking instruction for students based on a theme.
- University Hall no longer has Burger Studio — or its signature burger customization kiosks — and will now have more breakfast options with BRKFST & CO.
- Sushi will now cost one meal swipe and $3, instead of two meal swipes, at Palladium.
- Street Food at Palladium has been replaced by Piccola Italia and the global section has been replaced by Absurd Bird, a chicken-focused option. There is no longer a soup station, although Mr. Bing has returned to Palladium.
- Kimmel no longer offers stir-fry and now has a “student choice” option, which allows students to vote on menus.
- Downstein has Italian ice and more vegan options such as veggie and black bean burgers.
- Upstein’s omelet station is now called Egg Shop instead of Over Easy and no longer offers biscuits with meals.
Of the 15 students WSN spoke to, only a few had strong opinions on the recent changes.
“I haven’t liked Palladium quite as well,” Stern sophomore Michael Rivera said. “There are a few times where I’m thinking it hasn’t been as good.”
Tisch sophomore Joely Garcia, unlike Rivera, liked the changes to Palladium. Garcia also said that UHall seemed to have improved.
“I’ve noticed that it looks healthier and it smells better,” Garcia said. “I do think that it tastes better.”
Many other students, however, did not seem to notice much of a difference despite the various renovations.
“I mean, I’m from New Jersey,” Tisch sophomore Devin Lee said. “I could find so many other things that I like here.”
Additional reporting by Alexandria Johnson, Ishaan Parmar and Julia Santiago.
Email Victor Porcelli at [email protected]