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Dining Hall adds low calorie options

SARA FELSENSTEIN | Monday, August 30, 2010

Notre Dame Food Services worked this summer to add more low calorie and multicultural options to the dining hall menus, responding to student demand for healthier options.

Marc Poklinkowski, general manager of South Dining Hall Food Services, said the changes were made directly in response to the student surveys that are completed at the end of each semester.

“If I had to sum up what the four to five hundred students said on the survey, it’s, ‘OK, we need to get healthier.’ I think we’ve addressed a lot of those issues in the changes we made this year,” he said.

One noticeable change to the dining hall menu is the addition of red pepper hummus, which Poklinkowski said has been extremely popular so far this year. He said that all of the hummus is made by the Food Service support facility right off campus.

“There’s a possibility that we will make different types of specialty hummus in the future,” he said.

Student body president Catherine Soler said student government, aware of how popular hummus is with students, worked to provide more flavor options.

“One of our platform ideas was better hummus, and we expressed this to Notre Dame Food Services. We found out that they actually made hummus in the plant off campus, and that there were new opportunities available there,” she said. “In the end we decided on red pepper hummus.”

Poklinkowski said a notable change is the addition of Greek and Indian cuisine.

“The Pan-American station is turned to Greek food once every twelve days. We did that to break up the monotony,” he said. “All day we have gyros, spanakopita, pita chips, spicy feta, spicy Mediterranean relish, among other Greek foods.”

Every 12 days, Indian cuisine will replace the homestyle line, Poklinkowski said.

“We had quite a few people [on the survey] ask for Indian foods,” he said. “One of the managers at the dining hall is Indian, so he came up with some home recipes. The unit chef over at North worked with him to put [those recipes] into Notre Dame terms.”

Tuesday is the first day South Dining Hall will serve Indian cuisine. Indian beef, chicken and vegetarian dishes will be offered, in addition to sides and rices.

Poklinkowski said small changes have also been made to the salad line at South.

“At the end of the salad line we are going to have a second variety salad, for example a buffalo chicken salad, a tomato walnut salad or a chicken Caesar, kind of like the ones that are prepared for lunch at North,” he said. “We are still figuring out the logistics … we don’t have the space to make them made-to-order.”

Other changes this year, Poklinkowski said, include new Sunkist flavored waters, craisins at the end of the salad line and “skinny buns” (90-calorie pita buns) on the deli line.

Tina Aalfs, operations manager of North Dining Hall Food Services, said North Dining Hall will integrate the Indian and Mediterranean cuisines into its menu after fall break.

“We’re planning on running each concept four days at a time, so we’ll have Indian for four days, Mediterranean for four days and Mexican for four days.”

For now, the biggest changes at North Dining Hall are apparent from the moment you walk in the building.

“Physically, the building’s changed,” she said. “[Over the summer] they painted the walls and installed new carpeting.”

While the new paint and carpet jobs are certainly cause for excitement, regular North Dining Hall-goers say they are ecstatic about the return of the spoons to their regular spot beside the forks and knives.

“Last year, I accidentally would take two forks because they did not have spoons on the utensil tray,” junior Rebecca Huffer said. “It’s nice to get my utensils all in one place now.”

Cereal enthusiasts who love to mix and match should be aware that five cereals provided last semester will go out of rotation by the end of September.

“We keep our 15 heaviest used cereals, and the bottom five rotate out each year,” Poklinkowski said. “Rice Krispies, Apple Jacks, Cocoa Krispies, Rice Chex, Captain Crunch and Cheerios are the six that got voted out, so they will likely be gone in a month or so.”