Summer brings changes for on-campus eats
By Krystal Cruz
Walking into Kin’s Market in Kinsolving Dormitory during the summer is visibly different, with fewer students crowding the aisles as they do in the fall or spring semesters.
“I come from the kitchen at Jester, so this is like cake compared to some of the intensity that happens during the school year,” Javi Resendez, a cashier for the Division of Housing and Food Services, said about working at Kin’s Market during the summer session.
“I think in general, summer is better because there’s less people and it’s not as busy quite often,” Resendez said. “There’s also more down time to figure everything else out.”
Although traffic from university students within food markets and dining halls on campus is visibly slower, officials at the DHFS are preparing for the fast influx of new students and visitors while also planning renovations and new accommodations for the upcoming school year.
“It’s definitely a different busy,” Rene Rodriguez, the director of the Food Service for DHFS, said about his summer workload. Rodriguez says the hardest part about working summers is managing the numbers of students to cater. Due to different student camps and orientation sessions who come to campus, there is “no consistency to numbers” in the summer, Rodriguez says.
While certain dining locations receive the most traffic from visitors, during the summer locations like the Littlefield Patio Cafe on Dean Keeton close momentarily for renovations. Re-opening on June 26, the cafe will have renovated the public bathrooms and upgraded the fountain drink machines to a freestyle “more modern” machine, Rodriguez says.
The Cafe will not be the only one to receive renovations. Rodriguez says throughout the summer, other dining locations and food markets will receive similar renovations.
Along with catering to students on campus during the summer, DHFS is beginning to initiate and promote new meal plans for students who plan to live off-campus next semester.
Beginning this upcoming academic year, DHFS is offering two “Commuter” meal plans. The plans, called the Longhorn 25 and Longhorn 50, will offer a certain amount of meals at the “all-you-care-to-eat” locations on campus. Rodriguez says this meal plan could potentially help students and their parents designate a certain amount of money specifically for food.
“The cost per meal for the meal plan is definitely less than the cash price,” Cynthia Yew, Marketing Director for DHFS, said. “So there is a value in participating in the commuter meal plan.”
Along with offering meal plans for off-campus students, DHFS is additionally planning to change the hours of operation at the dining locations. In the past, dining halls like J2 and Kins Dining opened for certain meals and closed until the next meal time. Starting in the fall, the “all-you-care-to-eat” dining halls will have “continuous service” from 10:30 a.m. till 8 p.m., Rodriguez says.
The idea for the “continuous service” sprouted from DHFS collaboration with student groups on campus after meetings to discuss what improvements they wanted to see in the dining locations around campus. Rodriguez says that the new set of hours will be a great convenience to all students, including the ones under the “Commuter Meal Plan.”
Even with managing the different dining locations and preparing for the upcoming school year, Rodriguez said he doesn’t have a preference to working in a certain season.
“It’s the same,” Rodriguez said. “It’s all about serving the needs of our students and our future students too.”