Our Commitment to Improving Your Dining Experience
September 24, 2020
We are writing to share Dining's plan, going into effect immediately, to make timely and lasting improvements to MIT’s dining program. These changes respond directly to feedback that we received from students via house surveys, an Undergraduate Association student forum, and direct input from house teams.
Before we share more details about the enhancements, we want to provide some background because it’s important to understand how we got to this point. We based the current food production plan on emergency health protocols and anticipated staffing challenges posed by COVID-19. With equity as the guiding principle and strict limits on the number of staff allowed in a kitchen simultaneously, we opted to standardize daily menus across the residences and to prepare all the food for the houses and the Student Center’s Lobdell Dining Hall in Maseeh, Baker, and McCormick. We believed this model would optimize our limited resources, improve quality control, and simplify delivery logistics. Kitchens in Next House and Simmons Hall remained offline and in reserve should other kitchens close due to COVID-19.
Unfortunately, the implementation of this plan fell short. The process of preparing, transporting, and distributing meals to all nine houses ended up compromising food quality. For this, we sincerely apologize.
Quality is a paramount concern for both students and us, so we are implementing the following action plan immediately:
- The five dining houses will return to in-house production for dinner and weekend brunch. Many team members that had been working in the houses will return. We are planning to reopen next week after taking steps necessary to ensure that staff are properly re-assigned to the houses.
- We will enhance the quality of hot food served in Lobdell for breakfast and lunch by relocating meal production to the Student Center’s retail kitchen. During a typical semester, this kitchen serves as the primary production site for retail dining on the east side of campus. We can use the Student Center kitchen for breakfast and lunch preparation, which will allow the house kitchens to focus on dinner and brunch.
- Bon Appetit’s three directors will conduct daily food audits, including weekends, and frequently in tandem with MIT Dining directors.
- We will make subscribers better aware of and improve the quality of offerings for students with dietary restrictions.
- We will increase communication between students and dining staff by launching menu brainstorming meetings with our new Campus Culinary Director Chef Luiz Da Costa. This will also improve recipe reviews and enhance both menu variety and food quality.
- Bon Appetit leaders will conduct monthly check-ins with House Dining Committee (HDC) members and cook-for-yourself community designees.
We are also launching two programs to enhance food variety and off-hours availability:
- Fun Fridays: Starting on October 2, we will host a special theme each Friday. The first event will feature a BBQ menu with smoked brisket, hamburgers, vegan burgers, and other BBQ-style foods. To maintain COVID-19 safety precautions, all Friday lunch events will be served in Lobdell.
- TechSnacks: Beginning September 27, we will offer an after-hours snack service in all nine undergraduate houses. TechSnacks will run Sunday through Thursday from 9 pm to 10 pm. Wednesday night will be dedicated to sushi, with rotating menus the other four nights. Snack menus will accommodate all food preferences and dietary requirements.
As a reminder, students needing additional information on available food resources can visit the DSL website.
Starting immediately, Bon Appetit will begin implementing this action plan to enhance the MIT Dining experience. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to either of us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your patience as we address your concerns and work to enhance the dining experience at MIT.
Mark Hayes, Director, MIT Dining
Scott Myers, Resident District Manager, Bon Appetit