Upon my return to campus after spring break, one of the first things my suitemate asked me was not “How was your break?” or “Did you go somewhere warm?” – but instead, “Have you seen the changes in Frank?!”
At first I thought she was referring to the large silver bowls for salad or the fresh instead of frozen hamburger patties, changes which were introduced before our week hiatus. Yet she quickly informed me that they had made even more reforms in the dining hall.
Used to avoiding Frank for as long as possible after having what I considered to be “real food” at home, I was curious to see what these new changes were about.
To my surprise, when I walked around, I did notice a few changes. My most interesting observation was the build your own pasta bar. Even though I love pasta, I tend to avoid Frank’s at all cost.
Often overcooked and bland, the pasta failed to meet my standards for cafeteria-style pasta, which were low to begin with. The pasta bar featured choices of vegetables (spinach, onions, peppers), pasta (wheat or white) and sauce (marinara or Alfredo).
After choosing my ingredients, it was sautéed just for me and served in a white porcelain bowl.
All the dishes in the dining hall have been upgraded from former black plastic to white porcelain. My roommates and I joked that the upgrade and presentation probably changes how appetizing the meals are. I like to believe we’re only half joking.
Before the recent changes, I felt as though my constant battle at Frank dining hall was between something that tasted good and something of nutritional value. I felt like I was forced to choose one or the other, instead of being able to have both. However, with the new changes, I feel as though I no longer have to make that decision.
For example, last Saturday night, one of the main entrees offered was General Tso’s Chicken with white rice. Because it is made on the spot, the wait time was a little lengthy – in my case, ten minutes.
Between this main dish and a side of broccoli from the new Simple Servings station, I didn’t feel conflicted between taste and nutrition. Another change that is small, but significant, is having fresh fruit available all day instead of just during the morning.
Because this was the topic of discussion among my friends and I for a few days, I became increasingly interested in how more seasoned students reacted to these changes to Frank.
So, I decided to invite senior Emilyann Keller and junior Jennifer Diaz to have lunch with me at Frank. Keller, unlike Diaz who eats in the dining hall every Tuesday for Table of Babel, had not eaten in Frank in over a year and a half and noted a lot of improvements. She reflected on how when she used to eat there, a problem she often ran into was wanting to try a food without running the risk of potentially wasting it.
As for Diaz, she appreciates the increase in variety that allowing students to “have a more balanced meal.” As for whether or not she would eat at Frank more often, Diaz said “Not really, because the food still is really expensive if you’re not on a meal plan.”
I think it’s safe to say that many students once viewed Frank as a hit or a miss-more often than not proving to be a miss.
I’m sure we can all account for at least one experience of making the rounds in Frank in hopes to find something appetizing and satisfying to eat and instead settling for Lucky Charms or a PB & J.
The new changes in Frank are promising efforts to eliminate such disappointment all together. New options like fresh fruit or avocado are sure to lessen the disappointment when the pre-made meals don’t cut it.