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Ohio State Dining Services changes menus, meal plans

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OSU dining locations have limited-time offerings and new meal plan options for Fall Semester. Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

OSU dining locations have limited-time offerings and new meal plan options for Fall Semester. Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

Fall Semester brought changes in meal plans and meal offerings to Ohio State dining locations.

There will be 250 limited-time options the dining locations’ menus this fall, including gourmet hot dog bars, quinoa pancakes, vegetarian calzones and street tacos.

“We have close to 250 limited-time offers that will go out throughout the Fall Semester and some may make it on our regular menu in the spring, and others will never make it back to our menu because students did not like it,” said OSU Dining Services Director ZiaAhmed. “Our limited time offers are a good monotony breaker, because our students are going back to the same operations, so it is always good to offer something different and new.”

In addition to the new offerings, Dining Services has also made changes to their meal plans. Last year, Dining offered 450- and 600-block plans that left many students scrambling to spend their unused blocks and ended up refunding students who had unused blocks $3 per block for Fall Semester, according to The Lantern archives.

This year, however, Dining Services is offering new plans to help students budget their blocks more efficiently, Ahmed said.

“All of the changes were made based on student feedback, so we made some changes to our plans,” Ahmed said. “We added two more blocks to our traditional plan and made it an unlimited plan. We also added two new plans, one with 20 blocks per week and one with 25 blocks per week. These are mostly geared to incoming freshmen who are not comfortable budgeting a 350- or 450-block plan.”

The price of the new meal plans has dissuaded some students from choosing the new options, however.

“I first chose the unlimited plan, but then I switched to the 350 plan because I thought it would be too much,” said Andres Plazas, a first-year in marketing. “I am currently on the 350-block plan because it is cheaper, and I thought I would only use two blocks a day and eat breakfast in my room.”

Dining Services is also attempting to better cater to students with its limited-time meal options, many of which were tailored for students with special dietary needs, such as those on a gluten-free diet, as well as vegetarians and vegans, Ahmed said.

“Vegetarian products are a big mover here at Ohio State University,” Ahmed said. “Our focus is not to offer vegetarian products, but to offer a great product that happens to be vegetarian. A lot of meat-eaters like to eat some, if not all, of the vegetarian options we have on campus.”

Third-year in neuroscience Kelsey Franklin, who is the president of the OSU Vegetarian and Vegan Society, said she believed the university has many great options for vegetarians.

“I have lived on campus for the past two years, and Kennedy Commons has some fantastic food that just happens to be vegetarian,” Franklin said. “They had people lined up at the vegetarian station that didn’t even realize it was a vegetarian thing. They have some great Indian dishes, veggie burgers, as well as vegetarian nuggets.”

Franklin said she hasn’t seen the variety of options available at Kennedy at other locations on campus though.

“The trend they started on South Campus has not necessarily spread to the North Campus dining area,” Franklin said. “There is a vegetarian station at the North Commons, but the vegan option is always vegan pasta and vegan marinara sauce. It has been that same thing every time I came in for the past two years. It has the potential to be better, because they have some great stuff at Kennedy, but they (dining services) just need to spread that philosophy to North Campus as well.”

Students who want to give Dining Services feedback about the new changes and the limited time offers have a couple different ways to do so, Ahmed said.

“We have a QR code on the bottom of our cash register receipts and students scan those codes with their smartphones,” Ahmed said. “We ask some basic questions like did the cashier smile and greet our customer? There is also an open ended space where students can give us their feedback. Students can also go to our website, and we also get a lot of good feedback from emails from students.”

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