Freeman said every five years, the University brings in food consultants to give dining officials an unbiased examination of food services at UNC. Last year, a firm called Envision Strategies hosted focus groups with students as part of this assessment, and the lack of weekend hours came up often in these focus groups.
Freeman said another motivation for adding Lenoir brunch was the increasing popularity of brunch at Rams Head Dining Hall in recent years. Last year, an average of 1,500 to 1,800 students came to eat brunch at Rams each weekend. Comparatively, lunch — which is currently the most crowded meal at Top of Lenoir — averages 2,200 students per day.
“To get the quick service we wanted at those times, we felt that those numbers were high enough to open Lenoir Hall for breakfast and lunch,” Freeman said.
Freeman said he has a goal of 1,000 students eating brunch at each location.
The cost of the new weekend meals is expected to be between $150,000 and $180,000 for Carolina Dining Services. These costs mostly go toward labor with a smaller portion going toward additional food purchases. The costs are covered by the prepaid meal plans students have purchased.
Freeman said he hopes the new hours will cause an increase in the number and the size of meal plans purchased. He said similar increases happened with the addition of late-night meals at Rams Head Dining Hall in 2010.
The convenience of the additional hours appealed to senior Lisa Morris.
“It’s definitely more convenient for people on campus. If I lived on campus, I’d be really happy about it,” Morris said.
Sophomore Jennifer Jin had mixed feelings about the new hours.
“I think it’s convenient,” she said. “It was a struggle as a freshman, but it was also nice to see upperclassmen at Rams. It was always nice to see new faces.”