This collection of bottles in Commons Center showcases how many plastic bottles Vanderbilt previously sold in half a week, according to Campus Dining Marketing Manager Jessica Williams. (Photo by Eva Durchholz)
This collection of bottles in Commons Center showcases how many plastic bottles Vanderbilt previously sold in half a week, according to Campus Dining Marketing Manager Jessica Williams. (Photo by Eva Durchholz)

Campus Dining overhaul: no more plastic water and soda bottles, limited Munchie Mart swipes, more late-night dining options, among other changes

Changes to Campus Dining are focused on sustainability, healthy and allergen-sensitive eating and student-driven priorities.

Campus Dining has revamped its operations this year with pushes to enhance sustainability, encourage healthy and allergy-sensitive eating, implement student-driven changes and remove popular previous dining options. Notable changes include removal of plastic water and soda bottles from dining locations, limiting students to one Munchie Mart swipe per day and the addition of late-night dining options at E. Bronson Ingram and Commons dining halls from 11 p.m.-2 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

The addition of late-night dining options and new Taste of Nashville restaurants, including Jeni’s in Hillsboro, Taco Mama and The Ainsworth are the result of VSG Campus Life Committee feedback, according to a VSG email. The removal of plastic bottles on campus is aligned with the University’s sign-on to the student-led petition this spring to get Vanderbilt to be carbon neutral by 2050, according to campus signage. 

Structural changes

  • Highland Munchie Mart, previously called Morgan Munchie Mart, now has a hot bar as well as a cold or “salad” bar. The location features a “vegetable butcher” where students can get vegetables purchased at the mart washed and chopped for free. The newly renovated Highland Munchie Mart will open Monday at 7 a.m.
  • Branscomb breakfast and both Rocket Subs locations have been discontinued.
  • Students are now limited to one “munchie” swipe per day. However, at Kissam and Morgan Munchie Mart, a Kissam Kitchen or Hot/Cold bar entree with munchie mart sides counts as a non-munchie swipe and is not limited by this new policy. Campus Dining imposed this munchie swipe limit to encourage community building, according to Campus Dining Marketing Manager Jessica Williams.

    Highland Munchie Mart is newly renovated to have hot and cold bars and a vegetable butcher where students can get vegetables washed and chopped for them. (Photo courtesy Campus Dining)
  • The Campus Dining App has been discontinued. Hours, locations and other information is available at the redesigned campus dining website. There is no replacement Campus Dining App currently, but the website is extremely mobile-friendly. 
  • Students will be able to mobile order through the GET app at the Pub and Local Java.
  • Chef James Bistro in Rand will re-open for lunch after having been closed last year.


  • Plastic water and soda bottles have been removed from campus Munchie Marts and dining halls as part of Campus Dining’s “No More Plastic” campaign, which is Vanderbilt’s plan to decrease single-use plastics on campus in the interest of sustainability. Instead, many beverages are now available in aluminum cans because aluminum is more easily and often recycled than plastic. 
  • Plastic bottles in vending machines on campus will be phased out by October, and Vanderbilt catering now uses boxed water and compostable dishware. The next step of the “No More Plastic” campaign is ridding dining locations of of plastic Powerade and juice bottles, according to Williams. Plastic straws have also been eliminated.
  • All undergraduate students can get a free, reusable Vanderbilt water bottle with their Commodore Cards at Munchie Marts and tables in the upcoming week. Students may also purchase additional water bottles for $15. Locations and dates where students can redeem their free water bottle credit are:
    • Commons: August 17-18
    • Rand: August 19-23
    • Kissam: August 19-20
    • Branscomb: August 19-20
    • Highland: August 19-20
  • Kissam now utilizes reusable dishware along with enhanced dining space that is more dining-friendly. This represents a change from previous years in which Kissam only offered to-go, throwaway dishware and consisted largely of lounge chairs instead of dining tables.

    More diner-friendly tables and chairs have been installed in Kissam’s main floor, to replace previous lounge furniture. (Photo courtesy Emilio Loret de Mola)
  • Food waste at Vanderbilt is now tracked by LeanPath. Each location’s recent food waste information from each dining hall is also listed on TV displays at tray returns. 

Healthy and allergy-sensitive eating

  • There is a new user-friendly Net Nutrition website that allows students to filter current campus dining options to see what the food offerings that fit their dietary restrictions at any given time. On the new website, students can add food items to obtain a full meal nutritional profile.
  • All dining halls (E. Bronson Ingram, Rand, Commons) and The Pub are now nut-free. Although other Rand dining locations are nut-free, Local Java is not nut-free and Munchie Marts throughout campus will continue to offer items containing nuts. 

Student-driven changes

Student-driven changes are attributed to efforts by VSG to make Campus Dining less limited for students and to offer on-campus dining options more similar to off-campus dining options. 

  • Meal periods are gone, having been replaced with a 60-minute lock-out period following each swipe, allowing students to only use one swipe per hour. 
  • E. Bronson Ingram and Commons dining halls will have a late-night food option from 11 p.m.- 2 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This late-night food service will offer a rotation of diner-inspired favorites such as burgers and breakfast foods. 
  • Five new dining options have been added Taste of Nashville: Jeni’s (Hillsboro Village Location), Taco Mama, the Ainsworth, Meet Noodles and Poke Bros.
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About the Contributor
Eva Durchholz, Former News Editor
Eva Durchholz ('20) studied public policy and medicine, health and society in the College of Arts and Science. She can be reached at [email protected].
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Comments (12)

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Kate Forney
4 years ago

If changes were going to be made to the dining policy, they should have been made and publicly announced prior to the start of school. I find it ridiculous that students are worried about their ability to acquire meals when they should be focused on starting off the new school year. The fact that Vanderbilt requires meal plans for upperclassmen is already more restrictive than most universities, but to now restrict WHERE and HOW the students can use those meal swipes really goes too far. These are some of the brightest young individuals in the country. They are more than capable of deciding how best to feed themselves. Likewise, they are more than capable of deciding when to be social. If socialization truly is the goal here (and I don’t believe it is), I would argue that forced socialization is insulting. They aren’t toddlers. There are plenty of students who eat certain meals with friends, but on other days, due to other commitments, may be forced to use the Munchie Mart more than once. Perhaps they have labs and work on the same day, or perhaps it’s just a busy week with several papers due and they just want to grab a yogurt for breakfast and a frozen entree for dinner to take it back to their room while they finish up their paper. I’m very disappointed in Vanderbilt leadership and the implementation of this policy.

4 years ago

Has anyone considered how unsanitary reusable water bottles are?

Do on-campus students have the capability to adequately wash and sanitize these bottles every day?

Also, why limit purchases from Munchie Matt’s? Off campus students do not have the luxury of a dorm room to store items and may need to make multiple purchases during the day.

Quite frankly, I don’t think these plans considered ALL students and all situations.

Kathy Platt
4 years ago

Limits on Munchie Mart are very limiting for those who need to use them for their meals during non-dining hours. I understand the goal to improve community but students schedules are most critical. My daughter has to use Munchie Mart like a grocery store because dining hall meals are not available early morning before her student teaching and at other times when she has class and extracurriculars. Vanderbilt students are too busy for limitations to be placed on when and how they can eat.

4 years ago

I’m afraid the dining deficiencies described here are another reason Vanderbilt will never be a high-class university.

4 years ago

Im puzzled why Vanderbilt cares how many swipes a student does at a Munchies Mart? Honestly! As a parent, who is “required” to purchase a specified number of meals on a ticket, I just want my child to be able to eat when he is hungry. Weather he chooses to be “social” during meal time or not should be up to him. I find it offensive for Vandy to take a group of intelligent adults, and dumb them down by telling them how, when, and where they are to eat. Seriously! Why you care if the students choose to be social or not is bizarre at best.

Peter Nygaard
4 years ago

I don’t see how limiting Munchie Mart swipes accomplishes anything positive. They can say it’s about community-building, but that’s obviously not why they made the decision to do it — and I might add, some of the best community-building is done on the shoulders of Munchie Mart excursions.

4 years ago

I think these “student-driven changes” are actually just restrictions put in place to help campus dining, especially as regards the munchie limit. They have no interest in “community building” at all. It’s a genuinely inconsiderate system of micromanaging how we use our swipes, and is in fact likely to be harmful for students’ health, as it assumes that on any given day, we are guaranteed to have time for a sit down meal at a dining hall when we may well need those time-effective options throughout the day at the munchie marts. I’m wholeheartedly against the swipe limit. It’s low-income students who will be affected most, too.

Lisa Grubbs
4 years ago

While I appreciate all the information provided in this newsletter what I would really like the school to address is the fact that there are times Vanderbilt closes all or the majority of dining facilities when students are on campus. A prime example of this was during move in this past weekend. Only having the Commons Dining Hall open for minimum hours Saturday and even more limited on Sunday is not a best practice. While I understand that there are restaurants that students can utilize their meal money at and also pay cash at – to start that at the onset of the school year is not what students necessarily want to do, particularly those operating on a budget. There should be at least ONE dining hall open to the students on the main campus in addition to Commons dining being open as well. If the university is insistent on doing it this way it should be widely advertised so that students are aware to plan accordingly. This was also a problem during exams in the spring semester.

4 years ago

Congratulations Vanderbilt and welcome to the nanny state concerning the Minnie mart swipes

Bryce Beddard
4 years ago

“Campus DIning imposed this munchie swipe limit to encourage community building, according to Campus Dining Marketing Manager Jessica Williams.”

Oh please. Just be honest and say it’s because you don’t want us to use all of our swipes at Munchie on Sunday.

priya doobay
4 years ago

Love the changes!!
I just moved my daughter into WashU and was very impressed with the catering to allergy needs. You can just walk into the dinning hall and ask for a gluten free menu which has all the favorites:
Caesar salad,
Wok fried rice
Etc, etc
You just have to ask and any of these items can be made fresh by a chef. While Vanderbilt strives to accommodate allergies with the mobile app, WashU definitely has taken it to a higher level. Presently, Vanderbilt does not even offer a gluten free pizza or the wide variety of food I saw on the WashU menu. My son pretty much eats the same food Daily since he doesn’t use the ordering app.
Hope they continue to improve the catering to kids with food allergies. It’s always good to look at Best Practices. Thank you

4 years ago

I want breakfast