This year, as students shuffle through the different food station lines at Lenoir and Chase Dining Halls, they may notice more than just what’s on the menu.
Carolina Dining Services is preparing to open a new seating area and new food stations in Chase and roll out a new environmental initiative at Lenoir.
Construction is currently underway on a new 5,000-square-foot outdoor dining space at Chase. CDS plans to open the 115-seat space in the first half of October.
“Seating has been our challenge in both locations and we had the money and the ability to actually affect Chase Hall’s seating capacity,” Director of Auxiliary Services for Campus Enterprises Scott Myers said.
Myers said the area will be accessible through large doors at the rear of the existing dining space in Chase and that the reimagined space will take advantage of Chase’s heightened position.
“It sits on top of a parking deck, so you couldn’t put heavy construction up there. Architects had to figure out how to put a lightweight seating structure out there,” said Myers. “It’s really a feat of engineering genius on their part.”
Plans for the project were introduced about four years ago, and the Student Dining Board started looking at the plans about three years ago.
CDS will also roll out new food stations at Chase.
Sophomore Megan Hastings said she went to the dining halls for lunch almost daily last year, but said she sometimes had trouble finding healthy options, as well as choices that she could eat as part of a vegan diet.
In addition to adding more sandwich and salad options, Chase will soon offer an allergen-free station.
“This station inside of Chase Hall will be serving menu items that satisfy being free of the top-eight allergies,” said Myers. The top eight allergens, which are the most likely to cause food allergies, include milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans.
Myers said the $5.8 million Chase updates will come out of CDS’s budget, and that CDS was able to save up money for the renovations.
“No student fees went into this,” Myers said.
The major renovation focus is now on Chase. Lenoir underwent changes last year, including the additions of CholaNad and Merritt’s Grill.
Some environmentally conscious students said they would like to see more green initiatives in the dining halls.
“It is kind of a shame they’re using disposable cups, that’s kind of increasing waste,” junior Josh Lovett said.
Myers said Lenoir currently uses paper coffee cups to help alleviate strain on dining hall dishwashing staff, but that CDS is preparing to change that.
“We’ve actually got a plan to eliminate paper coffee cups in the dining halls, in Chase and Top of Lenoir this semester,” he said. “We will have to phase that in over the next couple weeks.”
He said CDS will give mugs to meal plan holders, begin promotions to encourage use of reusable cups and eventually stop offering paper cups.
Students interested in providing direction for CDS can join the Student Dining Board, a student group that meets weekly to provide feedback.
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