Food Culture

Food Culture

Building community. Expanding horizons. Nourishing bodies.

MORE THAN FUEL. At MIT, food builds community and expands horizons. We want the Student Center’s approach to food and dining to sustain people, connect one another, and celebrate different cuisines, dietary needs, and tastes. In fall 2021, MIT Dining and foodservice incubator CommonWealth Kitchen (CWK) opened the Launchpad, a food hall in the Lobdell Dining Hall on the Student Center’s second floor.

This one-of-a-kind facility hosts three eateries at a time – currently serving Korean, Venezuelan, and Mediterranean/East African cuisine – run by fledgling food entrepreneurs under the careful leadership of CWK and selected by students. On a regular basis, students will again select new concepts to rotate into the Launchpad, keeping the food offerings fresh while also giving more fledgling businesses the singular opportunity to hone their menus and business models. For example, Tawakal Halal Cafe was selected by students to be the fourth Launchpad concept and was part of the first-phase reopening on September 12, 2023.

Beyond the Launchpad, the partnership has the potential to provide opportunities for up to seven local, minority-owned businesses incubating at CWK as on-site vendors or as suppliers whose products are sold in the Student Center.

Likewise, we will look to reinvigorate retail dining on the first floor. A working group of students, faculty, and staff worked through the pandemic to devise an overall approach to food and dining in the Student Center that emphasizes nutrition, sustainability, flexibility, and student engagement. Their work helped result in the plans for Lobdell and, with support from MITIMCo which holds retail leases in the Student Center, they will inform the selection of first-floor retail dining partners--including a new campus grocer--suited to the needs and tastes of the multitudes who visit the Student Center each day.