The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



SMC dining options cater to busy students

Justin Tardiff | Friday, November 4, 2005

With busy academic, athletic and social schedules, not all Saint Mary’s students can eat dinner at the dining hall during the normal hours of 4:30 to 7 p.m. – but now they have alternative option.

Board of Governance student services commissioner Kate Wallach proposed the establishment of a new choice. Along with student body president Kellye Mitros, vice president Susan McIlduff and dining hall general manager Barry Bowles, Wallach helped create a pasta bar at Dalloway’s.

The pasta bar is open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. – when the normal dining hall hours have ended.

“Students should not be penalized for missing dinner due to a rigorous practice and study regimen,” Wallach said. “The pasta bar was an attempt to meet those needs, as well as extend the late dinner option to others.”

The pasta bar is self-serve and includes breadsticks and salad at the exchange of one meal on a student meal plan. Saint Mary’s students also have the option of eating at the Cyber Café, but the café accepts cash – or “Munch Money” – rather than a meal exchange.

Wallach said the pasta bar is not only for athletes and other busy students.

“It is also a late night dinner option to others,” she said.

Wallach said opening night “went well” in terms of turnout.

“We had about 40 people come that night,” she said. “Still in our first week, we are getting the same turnout as we did on the first day … I hope [the pasta bar] will be a small step in the process of increasing overall student satisfaction.”

Freshman basketball player Meghan Conaty said she sometimes has trouble making it to the dining hall within dinner hours, but she does not want to resort to using her cash or “Munch Money” when she misses a meal for a practice or game.

“I went to the pasta bar last week and it was perfect,” she said. “The food was good and I didn’t have to spend any money because it was covered by my meal plan.”

Students on the student dining committee assist Wallach with the pasta bar. Mitros and McIlduff created the group this year to specifically target “student services.”

“The student dining committee had been the goal of current general manager, Barry Bowles, for quite some time now,” Wallach said.

At the committee’s first meeting last Thursday, Wallach created subcommittees consisting of budget, publicity, retail and a special events committee.

Wallach said the budget subcommittee tracks where student money is going and determines if the goals are reasonable to follow.

“To keep a balanced budget, they also will consider the modifications needed to meet student demands,” she said.

The publicity subcommittee is in charge of creating polls and surveys to elevate student awareness and gather organized data to highlight areas of need and improvement, Wallach said.

Retail is in charge of other dining locations and will sit on the Dalloway’s and Cyber Cafe boards monthly. The subcommittee will also form collaborative goals with those established by Wallach and the SMC Board of Governance.

The special events committee will work with the dining hall to plan cultural, holiday and other events. They will also reach out to the students who have different eating styles such as vegetarians or students with busy schedules such as athletes.

Wallach said she is working with the committees to increase healthy options at the dining hall and revise the menus at Dalloway’s and the Cyber Café.

The new dining options will continue to change under the leadership of Wallach and the various student-run groups.

“As this is a new committee at Saint Mary’s, I am sure our direction will be influenced by the feedback and need of the students,” Wallach said. “Our goals are team oriented. In order to implement change, we need to gather ideas from the student body, see if our aims can fit the budget, make modifications in the menu or organization in the dining area, and then gather more feedback to see if our means justified the end.”