Students still unhappy with dining services

By Rebecca Osowski, Taylor Viles & Owen KwetFeatures Editor, Print Sports Editor & 1851 Contributor

A student waits to pick up their food from Kyle Mullen (’21) at the 1851 Grill. Photo by Taylor Viles

Late night dining at The 1851 Grill was implemented on campus in the spring of 2019, giving students not only another dining location but also a late-night meal option. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the grill switched from in-person ordering to using only the Boost Mobile app. 

Since the majority of the student body has returned to campus for this academic year, issues have been experienced across multiple aspects of dining.

Many students have been experiencing issues ordering late night dining at the 1851 Grill through the Boost Mobile app due to pre ordering and backups in production. “It’s certainly not the ideal thing to have to order at noon for dinner when I literally live right upstairs,” said sophomore sports communications major LJ VP LaFiura.

Director of Dining Services Michael Quackenbush said the backups are due to staffing shortages and working out flaws in the Boost Mobile app. “To ensure meals are prepared on time despite labor shortages, we offer a set number of pick-up times every six minutes,” Quackenbush said. 

At the beginning of the year, some students were unable to place a late-night order after 8 p.m. because the app was backed up with student orders, but according to the Assistant Director of Operations for Dining Kyle Mullen (21’), this situation has been resolved. “It is not normal for pick-up times to be later than a guest’s order time.  Sometimes we may experience a short delay if we are short-staffed. We did experience a campus-wide outage recently that did cause pick-up times to be delayed in September,” said Mullen.

Until this improvement has been seen by students, many continue to have ordering issues. “The app doesn’t work [on my phone] so it’s a little frustrating because I can’t order food late at night,” said Kaitlyn Gargas, a sophomore hospitality and event management major. 

Quackenbush said the app works best when the most up-to-date version is installed on students’ phones. 

Gargas is hopeful the grill can return to in-person ordering as she remembers from her first year, but after meeting with the food committee, Quackenbush says they have decided to continue exclusively use the Boost Mobile app to limit large groups from forming in the Arnow Campus Center. 

He explained how earlier in the semester, time slots for ordering on the app were set further apart to keep distancing measures in place, but since on-campus COVID-19 guidelines have been updated, the 1851 Grill has followed suit, accepting more orders per six-minute time slot. 

LaFiura has begun to accept the possibility of eating late or not eating at all because of the experienced back-ups. “You kind of have to deal with the 11 p.m. timeslot… I guess it just comes down to, you don’t eat, or I’ve gone and ordered from off-campus which certainly costs a lot more money…to have somebody deliver,” he said. 

The 1851 Grill is not only experiencing issues with ordering but is also offering a smaller menu than students were used to in the past, but some of these issues are out of the hands of Dining Services. 

“Currently we are experiencing supply chain disruptions in the food and beverage industry.  We are doing everything we can to minimize disruptions for the Lasell Community,” said Quackenbush.

Dining Services is also making changes to better accommodate those with allergies and dietary restrictions in both the 1851 Grill and Valentine Dining Hall. “Boost just introduced an Allergen Alert to identify allergies. We are currently installing this across all Boost Platforms. Our team will review that information when the order is received and ensure that the item is prepared appropriately,” Quackenbush said. 

The Hibachi station at the Valentine Dining Hall, which offers vegan and vegetarian options. Photo by Rebecca Osowski

That change only applies to the 1851 Grill however, as students with these dietary restrictions continue to experience minimal options at the dining hall on a daily basis. This has forced some to go out of their way to find other sources of nourishment.

“Some nights it’s hard to find something that’s not unhealthy. French fries are an easy option, but to find something decent and nutritious can be difficult,” said sophomore public and community health major Caitlin Gannon. “Going off campus and buying my own food is more reliable than the dining hall, but it can be expensive.”

Quackenbush stands behind the two allergen and diet friendly stations offered in the dining hall, saying they improve their options every year. “Year over year Valentine Dining Hall continues to increase its availability of allergen-friendly foods,” Quackenbush said.

He invites students to reach out to Dining Services if they have specific needs. “We encourage all students who are having trouble finding foods to meet their dietary restrictions to contact us to discuss a plan to ensure they are comfortable navigating their way through the dining hall.”

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