Institute Dining Review
Ideas from Open Meetings

General Ideas

General Structure
  • Introduce competition.
  • Have meals in many facilities catered rather than prepared on site.
  • Have lots of student-run eateries and delivery services, especially late at night.
  • Have lots of ethnic carts and trucks all over campus. Let them rotate from dorm to dorm and from department to department.
  • Ring campus with eateries, like at other colleges.
Cost and Value
  • Introducing competition will drive prices down.
  • Use student labor rather than union labor whenever possible.
  • Sell full meals at a single discounted price.
  • Provide information to students on dining options and deals that are available to students through an "MIT Dining Guide."
  • Have MIT subsidize food costs.
  • Make dining part of MIT's overall costs, not a separate program that has to be self-supporting.
  • Have food service facilities overseen by chefs rather than by business managers.
  • Receipt tracking would give providers a better idea of student needs.
Facilities Planning
  • Plan for several small facilities rather than a few big ones.
  • Provide lots of places to eat and socialize all over campus (in lobbies, underutilized spaces, outside areas near the food trucks, etc.)
Services and Dining Options
  • Serve late dinners (prepackaged full meals).
  • Expand use of the MIT Card to include area restaurants, grocery stores, delivery services, LaVerde's, and Tosci's.
  • Have a conventional cafeteria where you get everything in a single line at an inexpensive rate.
  • Provide a real on-campus grill.
  • Have a "food court" facility where each booth is a different ethnic eatery, with each eatery run by a different local restaurant.
  • Bars on campus should offer full meals in addition to drinks.
  • Provide nutrition counselors.
  • Provide cooking classes.

Residential Dining Ideas

Residential Dining
General Ideas
  • Let residential halls be the primary managers of their dining operations, and give them access to professional consultants to help assist with the programs.
  • Use convenience store and delivery service profits to subsidize house dining programs.
  • There was significant interest in reopening Ashdown, at least on a limited basis. Many participants would be willing to commit to a flexible board plan to do so (3-4 nights per week, dining hall open from 7-9 pm, and prices low).
  • Open meeting participants greatly want to keep their dining hall open. To do so, many of the participants were willing to commit to some sort of limited, flexible meal plan (such as a house tax, requiring X number of meals per week per resident, etc.), provided that the food was was good, the plan catered to residents with different dietary needs, and the price was fairly low.
  • Participants want to reopen their dining hall, but don't want a mandatory meal plan because of past experience with MIT food quality and price. Suggested a mandatory plan might work with freshmen or if quality and value could be guaranteed. Also suggested using convenience store profits to subsidize the house dining hall.
  • Participants want to reopen their dining hall, but don't want a mandatory meal plan due to price and quality issues. However, residents might accept a low-cost, flexible plan if the food is good and the meals accommodate the dining needs of a diverse student body. A 1996 house survey showed that most residents would be willing to pay $300 for a 4 day per week, 7-9 pm, dinner only program.
Next House
  • Participants want to keep their dining hall open. They object to a full-semester meal plan, but said a monthly plan might be okay if the meals were of high quality and of good value.

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Institute Dining Review /
Last Revised 1/13/97