As part of an initiative led by the Sodexo food contracting service, Frank Dining Hall has introduced a new section called Wild Mush-room, which aims to offer additional vegan and vegetarian food options. Colgate, along with ten other uni-versities in the Northeast such as the University of Vermont, Colby College and State University of New York Oneonta are testing new reci-pes and collecting data based on stu-dent reactions to the changes.
According to the dining hall’s Executive Chef Michael Stagn-aro, the goal is for students to be pleased with the new options, and to encourage Sodexo to spread their recipes to other dining halls across the country.
“The corporate goal is to go na-tional with a vegan format in the fall,” Stagnaro said.
Stagnaro and the Resident Dining Manager, Dan Fravil, have been at-tempting to gauge student opinions by reviewing comment cards and talking to vegan students. The two vegan students they interviewed have been pleased with the recipes, but they have not received much other commentary from the rest of the stu-dent body. Both are hoping to hear more suggestions and critiques over the remainder of the semester, but are hoping that students are generally happy with the changes.
“I think it’s appealing to a lot more people than just vegans,” Stagn-aro said. “I think it’s becoming a good, healthy alternative and that it’s opening the doors for Dan and I to look at other areas of modification.”
The dining services staff has been busy visiting other university dining halls as well to get ideas for future improvements. In addition to introducing the Wild Mush-room section, they decided to keep the omelet bar open until 3 p.m. in hopes of satisfying student requests.
“I think that what the Wild Mushroom [section] has done is it’s giving us a taste of where we need to go with all our formats,” Stagnaro said. “I never want to consider that our customer thinks what we’re do-ing is okay. You spend hours in this building, you want people happy.”
In addition to satisfying stu-dents, Fravil is hoping that the Wild Mushroom sec-tion will insti-gate further im-provements that will help the dining hall stay current with others around the country.
“I think it’s a good launching pad for the next great things to come to the building,” Fravil said. “You start off as a testing kitchen [and] you hope it goes off well and spreads around this area so you can be on the trendy side of college dining.”
Stagnaro, who has worked at the dining hall since 1988, and Fravil, who has been at Colgate since 2004, have seen numerous changes at Frank Dining Hall. They hope that by continuing to listen to student recommendations they can keep the dining hall a positive, enjoyable place.
“It’s pretty interesting and humbling to find out that what you thought you were doing well was not what your student body wanted,” Stagnaro said. “I think it’s imperative for both Dan and I to have an idea of what the student body wants.”