To learn more about CU's various dining centers and meal plan options, visit housing.colorado.edu/dining .
Though the Center for Community Dining Center is the latest addition to the string of dining halls at the University of Colorado, the Boulder campus is home to many other options for students, faculty, staff and guests looking for fresh, tasty food.
"The dining centers all have the same guiding principle," said Kerry Paterson, the certified executive chef with CU's Housing and Dining Services. "We don't serve industrial, year-old cooking; we take ownership of our food."
CU's three veteran dining institutions reside in university dorms: Sewall Hall, Libby Hall and Darley Commons, serving the Williams Village dorms. Though the Center for Community Dining Center will be a big attraction for diners -- given its size, newness and unique, varied menu -- each of the remaining dining halls has "something to feel special about," Paterson said.
Working from a standard menu, each operation adds on extra features, or tweaks the menu to make the most of its distinctive layout and/or specialty.
Sewall has four platforms, allowing the day's menu to be spread out across different locations to allow pick-and-choose dining. Both Libby and Darley Commons have a chef spot, where the center's resident chef cooks up a unique dish to complement the day's options.
Each dining center also is afforded three to four times per week to create a "chef's choice" option. This gives the operation's chef "total freedom" to choose one dish and add a unique spin to it, Paterson said.
The dining halls around campus are not afraid of change. Every month, new and existing ingredients and dishes are subject to a taste-testing session where tweaks are made to improve the menu. Student and residence hall involvement is also encouraged, Paterson said.
"Menu suggestions are open to everyone," he said. "We're open to anything -- we're not so big-headed to say, 'You don't know what you're talking about.'"
Along with the four sit-down dining options at CU, the campus also has five Grab-n-Go operations designed to provide students with nourishment who are in a hurry.
2.1.3 in Darley Commons, Zellers in Sewall, Lickety Split in Libby, Go-Fresh in Farrand, and CU on the Run in the Center for Community represent "an intentional effort to have a Grab-n-Go on every part of campus," said Amy Beckstrom, the director of dining services for Housing and Dining Services at CU.
The university also has five retail venues offering convenience-store-like service to students, faculty staff and visitors. They are: the Emporium in Farrand, the Village Market at Williams Village, Zellers (a joint Grab-n-Go/retail venue in Sewall) and the WeatherTech Cafe and the Bakery, two brand-new outlets in the Center for Community.
To access dining centers and Grab-n-Gos, Beckstrom said visitors need a university-issued Buff OneCard.
"Freshmen have meals plans as part of their room-and-board cost," she said. "Non-freshmen can set up a block meal plan through the Housing website."
Although they serve thousands of students every day, each CU dining center is committed to preparing food in a way that is beneficial for patrons and the Earth.
Lauren Heising, coordinator for sustainable dining, is responsible for overseeing CU's A9 Allergen Project. The project, which started two years, was put in place to notify students with food allergies which of the nine major food allergens (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat, plus gluten) dishes in the dining halls contain, Heising said.
"Over the last five-to-eight years, we've seen an increase in the number of students entering college with food allergies and intolerances," she said. "We put an earmark on menu tags with the name of the item, plus whatever allergens are contained in it."
Heising said the university is working on "trying to combine sustainability with healthy eating." Though the definition of sustainability can vary depending on whom you talk to, "in the last few years, CU has made a lot of strides," she said.
These strides include the elimination of plastic bags from Grab-n-Go operations, replacing old equipment in the dining centers with water-efficient devices as much as possible, performing energy and water conservation audits on all dining operations to find areas for improvement and using a high number of recycled items, including staff uniforms, which are made primarily from recycled water bottles, Heising said.
Dining operations also are focusing on incorporating more sustainable ingredients in their menus. This is the first year of an effort to increase the number of organic, natural and local items and ingredients into university food, a program that will last until 2015, Heising said.
Though the university has developed goals toward sustainable and healthy eating options, reaching out to students is vital in order to get students to align with these beliefs, Heising said.
Perhaps by familiarizing yourself with CU's dining halls, their tasty food and their efforts toward sustainability, your values will align with the university's.