By Mackenzie Dineen, Morgan Vanwickler, Thomas Baker – Arts Editor, Art Director, 1851 Staff
On July 1, Lasell College officially welcomed its newest dining service, Chartwells Food Service, replacing the previous food service, Sodexo.
According to Dennis Lestrange, Operations Improvement Manager of Chartwells, the food service company is completely different than Sodexo, with the only similarity being the gold, silver, and bronze meal plans.
One specific difference is that Chartwells stresses the importance of allergy education. A main focus is eliminating gluten from the meals offered. The food in Valentine Dining Hall is about 70 to 80 percent gluten-free, according to Co-manager Michael Quakenbush.
The Fuze station is now F.A.Z.E. 8. The acronym stands for Food Allergy Zone Eatery, and all dishes prepared and served in this section exclude dairy, soy, eggs, gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and fish. A station with these guidelines prevents cross-contamination among the foods. Gluten-free pasta is always available, and the original gluten-free station includes additional options.
Senior Troy Gonsalves, SGA Vice President of Student Affairs, was on the dining services selection committee. “What really stood out about Chartwells to me, and what I have seen of them so far, is that they thrive off of student feedback,” Gonsalves said. “They truly want to listen and hear all feedback, complaints, and concerns from students and then use that to improve the dining services.”
Michael Hoyle, Vice President of Administration and Finance and chair of the selection committee, reached out to Gonsalves last December about being apart of the committee. “Initially, I was thrilled,” Gonsalves said. “At that point, I had been on SGA for about a year and a half and so the dining services has been a great part of my position as VP of Student Affairs on SGA.”
Professor Deidre Donovan said that she is loving the new food service. Donovan has food allergies and would sometimes have to ask for foods to be prepared in the back or request accommodations. Now she is able to eat a hot meal for lunch “without standing out.” “I don’t have to hunt and find food while worrying about cross-contamination,” Donovan said. She has also noticed a greater variety of meal options compared to Sodexo. Another Lasell staff member, officer John D’Auria, is in favor of Chartwells. He said, “It’s a little bit of a step up,” and noted one of the biggest changes in the quality of the pizza.
“I prefer the longer hours, it gives you more time to focus on other priorities,” said junior Kevin Joyce.
“I personally love the new dining hall experience; I trust more of the options of fruits and vegetables, [and] there’s a wider variety of healthier food with a friendlier staff,” said junior Katerina DiChiara
Since they have only been working with the students and faculty for about a month, Chartwells plans on continuing to make changes, especially ways to add more options. “The team is also working on different ways to utilize the Mongolian grill at F.A.Z.E. 8,” Lestrange said.
“This spring when we add a full service deli bar to Valentine Dining, we will be able to add more options, as well as specialty sandwiches that will change daily.” This winter, Chartwells plans to add a sushi bar to the campus center, and revamp the physical appearance and variety of lunch offered at Glow Lounge.
“Our menus are flexible to meet the needs of the campus community,” said Lestrange. “If there is something specific students want to see we can add it to our menu cycle.” He welcomes student emails regarding food or experiential questions addressed to him or Quakenbush. They are also open to meeting with students to discuss concerns.