House Dining Review

Welcome to the House Dining Review online resource.

For updates on House Dining for 2010-2011, including projected plan prices and decriptions, please visit the Update page.

For recent dining news, please visit the DSL News Blog

At MIT, Campus Dining comprises catering, retail operations, House Dining for the undergraduate residences with dining halls, and cook-for-yourself for those undergraduate residences with student kitchens. This website has been prepared by Campus Dining to describe the principles for a new meal plan for one of these areas, House Dining, and to offer important historical context for making the decisions at hand.

This month, Campus Dining will be soliciting ideas, comments, questions, and other feedback from the campus community to determine the ultimate shape of a new meal plan for House Dining. Read a letter to undergraduate students from Chris Colombo, Dean for Student Life, about this process.

Read the pages on this site to learn how improvements to House Dining can make the dining system stronger for for MIT. Please also visit the Dining Archive page, where you can view an extensive range of MIT historical documents ranging from half a century ago to last year's Blue Ribbon Committee report. And be sure to visit the Idea Bank to see ideas, comments, and questions posted in April 2010 from the Institute community.


What is Campus Dining? What is House Dining?

MIT Campus Dining oversees most food-related operations on campus including House Dining Rooms, restaurants, cafés, vending operations, food trucks, an on-campus produce stand, MacGregor Convenience store and catering operations. Dining also has relationships with the on-campus convenience store LaVerde’s Market, delivery services, and restaurants that accept TechCASH off-campus.

House Dining is one of Campus Dining's major areas of responsibility and encompasses the dining services in five residences: Baker, McCormick, Next, Simmons, and the Phoenix Group in Ashdown. It is this specific set of operations that are under discussion this semester.

Why is Campus Dining developing a new meal plan for House Dining now?

At the beginning of this year, the Institute-Wide Planning Task Force released its final report, including a recommendation that the DSL implement changes to its meal plan policies for house dining to eliminate an annual subsidy of more than $600,000. (Final Report, page 14, Student Life recommendation #6). In response, the DSL has commenced a semester-long examination of its dining operations, including both cook-for-yourself and house dining.  This process will be aided by the substantial body of analysis, community feedback, student opinion surveys, and other data provided over the past two years by the Blue Ribbon Committee on Dining, the report from Envision Strategies dining consultants, and the UA Dining Proposal Committee report.

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What are the main principles for House Dining?

Any new plan must consider four principles. These principles are outlined in detail on this site; see the tabs above or access them from the list below. Briefly, the four principles are:

  1. Student Choice: Students should be able to select their preferred dining arrangement. Read more...
  2. Health and Nutrition: The Institution has an obligation to ensure that through House Dining, students have access to nutritious meals and to encourage healthy eating habits. Read more...
  3. Community & Student Development: Meals present powerful opportunities to foster community and enhance student development. Read more...
  4. Financial Stability: The system must be self-sustaining.

Please read through them to get a sense of the issues that call for change to House Dining, and the significant advantages change to this program could bring to students and the MIT community.

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What is the timeline for a decision? When will a new plan be implemented?

Throughout the month of April, Campus Dining will be soliciting ideas, commentary, and questions about community preferences for House Dining. Based on this conversation, Campus Dining will announce a proposal for a new plan in mid-May.

The new meal plan will be implemented in Fall 2011.

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What are the details of the new plan?

The specific shape of a new meal plan--and also, therefore, its cost--will be developed this semester. This semester's House Dining conversation will determine key cost factors, such as breakfast options, service hours, and and all-you-care-to-eat service. To read more about considerations for the plan, click here.

Who is being consulted in the process? How do I participate?

Campus Dining is committed to a process that is transparent, thorough, and fair. To that end, in March 2010, the Dean for Student Life formed a House Dining Advisory Committee (HDAG) with the charge to advise on process and help guide the discussion around House Dining this semester. The HDAG is primarily composed of students and Housemasters from the four residences with House Dining (Baker, McCormick, Next, and Simmons) plus the Phoenix Group. Read the group's charge here.

The priority for the discussion will be the residents and Housemasters of these communities, since they are participants in the current plan and will continue to be participants in the new plan. The HDAG members will arrange forums for their communities and to provide other routes for residents of these houses to have their say. If you are a member of one of these houses, check with your house president, house dining chair, or Housemasters for more information.

Campus Dining recognizes, however, that dining at MIT is an issue of interest to the community at large. For example, students who do not live in these houses still take meals in the dining halls. Other members of the MIT community, as well as residents of the house dining communities, who wished to express their opinions on this issue were invited to do so in April 2010 through the MIT Idea Bank. Campus Dining will assemble all the ideas collected through this site and, at the end of the semester, respond to specific ideas and to themes that emerge.

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Who is affected? Will any proposed changes affect cook-for-yourself students?

Once implemented, the new plan would not affect all students, but only those who chose to live in Baker, McCormick, Next, and Simmons, and any students living elsewhere who voluntarily opted to enroll in it.
 The plan will be implemented in Fall 2011.

During the next academic year, the Campus Dining office will select a vendor to operate our House Dining system. We will also take stock of our dining hall facilities and perform any construction and maintenance necessary to support the new plan. As important, members of the Class of 2012 and 2013 -- the two classes currently at MIT that will be directly affected by changes to House Dining -- will have a year to consider whether to move to another residence based upon their dining preference.

The process of developing a new plan for House Dining will not diminish cook-for-yourself in any way in the houses that currently do not have dining halls. Campus Dining and the Dean for Student Life pledge their continued support for cook-for-yourself in houses without dining halls.

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What is the Idea Bank?

The MIT Idea Bank is an interactive forum that harnesses the innovative and collaborative spirit of the Institute. Established in 2009 to capture cost-saving ideas during the financial crisis, the Idea Bank is now an on-going tool for engaging the community’s collective wisdom on major issues at MIT. A new section, devoted to House Dining, was opened in April 2010. Visit the Idea Bank to submit, read, and discuss ideas submitted during that period.

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What is the Dining Archive?

Campus Dining has posted a collection of Institute documents related to dining and Residential Life. Recent materials include reports from the 2009 Blue Ribbon Committee on Dining, 2009 surveys and other analysis from Envision Strategies, and student reports and opinions from the UA and other sources.

MIT has discussed, planned, and studied House Dining for more than half a century. Therefore, the Dining Archive also contains historical documents related to the issue dating back to the 1950s.

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