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MIT Dining Creates Required Meal Plan

Student Feedback Will Determine Details

By James Harvey

Campus Activities Complex Director Phillip J. Walsh announced at yesterday’s Dormitory Council meeting that MIT has decided to implement a mandatory meal plan for all students living in dormitories.

“The decision has been made by the Institute to move to a participatory meal plan,” he said. A minimum level of participation in such a plan would be mandatory for all undergraduate dormitory residents, but the details of possible meal plan options are yet to be finalized. This reformulation of the dining system comes as the current contract with Aramark is set to expire at the end of the year.

“The administration has the right idea in going to the community for input,” said Matthew S. Cain ’02, DormCon president. “It is aiming for the right thing -- focusing on improvements on hours, quality, and service while trying to build community -- but it should be careful not to destroy residence hall communities centered around their kitchens. Preserving choice is key.”

The proposed dining plan involves renovating dining halls at Burton-Conner House, McCormick Hall, and Next House. It also includes the dining hall at Simmons Hall, the recently renovated Baker Dining, and Walker Memorial, which would be affiliated with East Campus.

These dining halls would most likely be run by the same contractor. Other dining areas, including those in the Stratton Student Center and the new Stata Center dining facility, would be run by independent restaurants.

The plan calls for the six residential dining operations to serve dinner Sunday through Friday as well as Sunday brunch. Kosher options will be available, and vegetarian and vegan menus will be extended.

The new plan will most likely have two main components: a set number of “board” meals at residential dining halls and a declining balance that could be used at any of the dining facilities or vending machines. On-campus convenience stores would continue to be covered by the declining balance, but non-food services such as laundry would not.

Richard D. Berlin III, director of Campus Dining Services, acknowledged some special circumstances. Many of the cultural houses now have community dinners; it is unclear how these will be affected. Random Hall is also of concern, as it is not near any residential dining hall.

Campus Dining will hear student input at a town meeting on October 3.