UMBC Dining Committee
UMBC Eats guest blogger, Kwame Agyeman, talks to Lois Sarfo-Mensah and Brennan Amato, student members of the UMBC Dining Committee. As president (Sarfo-Mensah) and treasurer (Amato) of the Commuter Student Association (CSA), they strive to represent the viewpoint of the commuter population at dining committee meetings.
(1) What are some of the goals of the Dining Committee?
BA: The committee is a good way for Chartwells to measure the campus needs for students (residents and commuters), faculty/staff and catering events. They also strive and make sure that everyone is satisfied, such as the various groups on campus with different dietary needs (e.g., vegetarians).
The committee works to make UMBC dining greener, healthier and more interesting.
The committee encompasses all the dining facilities on campus, including True Grit’s, The Commons, Administration Coffee Shoppe, Skylight Room, catering events, vending machines, Chick-Fil-A, Starbucks, etc.
Chartwells wants to create a healthier student population in mind and body. A population that is conscious of the effects of consuming on themselves and their environment.
To make campus dining more interesting/inviting, special themed food selections are presented in the dining hall. Some showcase different ethnic foods, and promote local food businesses.
LSM: Since we are the future leaders of America, everything Chartwells produces affects us, the way we think, operate and function on a daily basis. The committee wants to understand how dining, retail, and catering impacts the student population, health-wise and as a whole.
The Dining Committee contains representatives from specialized food interest groups, top Chartwells representatives, top campus chefs, CSA and RSA representatives members of the SGA, etc.
(2) What are some of your goals as a Dining Committee member?
BA: I am there to represent the CSA and to ensure that the general concerns on commuter dining are heard. I want commuters to get their full nutritional benefits while they are on campus.
LSM: To represent the commuter population. Chartwells needs to realize that their food is too expensive for commuters! Also there are not enough proper breakfast options for commuters. They come here early in the morning to get parking so they need fuel from the most important meal of the day. As a dining committee member I want to ensure that the quality of food is not sacrificed for the quantity.
(3) What is the dining committee’s stance on UMBC’s Sustainability Initiative?
BA: The Chartwells representatives are big on conserving food.
All food waste is placed in containers to keep track of and measure how much is being wasted throughout the year.
There have been discussions and plans of other green methods such as waste composting, but such plans are for the future, since they are not currently feasible. Nothing that I know of is definite; ideas are definitely being bounced around.
Other current initiatives are the use of biodegradable food containers and utensils, as well as using farmed fish.
LSM: Lots of initiatives have been organized by Chartwells. For example, the food containers and eating utensils at Fresh Fusions are biodegradable. Utensils used at the Administration Coffee Shoppe are also eco-friendly.
The clear plastic cups at catering events are also biodegradable.
The tray removal from True Grit’s has also prevented students from overfeeding themselves. If one has a small plate, there is only so much that you can dish at one time. This also helps to cut back on food wastage.
(4) How is the Dining Committee changing on-campus food to cater to the specialized needs of different campus groups, such as vegetarians and vegans?
BA: There are committee members who represent these specialized dining interest groups.
Chartwells also attempts to cater to groups with food-intolerance needs. For example, Famous Famigilia Pizzeria now uses pizza crust that is gluten-free to cater to customers with gluten allergies.
In fact, a representative of the Muslim Student Association attended a meeting to thank Chartwells for catering Halal and boxed meals during Ramadan.
LSM: Chartwells uses any organic brands that are available and/or are vegan/vegetarian friendly. They either already have it, or they will order it for us. For example, the Stonyfield Farm yogurt for purchase at Outtakes is a vegan-friendly brand.
(5) What are your favorite places to eat off-campus?
BA: I don’t dine out too often. I prefer to cook for myself.
LSM: Yes! There are lots of hidden gems around the place.
- Tex Mex Burritos & Tacos – 5315 East Drive, Halethorpe, MD 21227 Ph: 410 242 4840.
- Kebob & Curry Café – 5313 East Drive, Halethorpe, MD 21227 Ph: (410) 737-7773
- Lucy’s Paradise – 6429 Frederick Rd, Catonsville, MD 21228-3504Café Ph: (410) 788-9530
- Indian Delight
- Tutti Frutti
- Yogi Castle
- Pho #1
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