A look into Fall 2022 dining

Campus Dining pilots an unlimited meal plan, VisionPass identification system and the return of The Pub.

Students being served at Suzie’s Café in Medical Research Building III, as photographed on Nov. 4, 2021. (Hustler Multimedia/Hallie Williams).

Hallie Williams

Students being served at Suzie’s Café in Medical Research Building III, as photographed on Nov. 4, 2021. (Hustler Multimedia/Hallie Williams).

Ben Arthur and Eigen Escario

Beginning in the Fall 2022 semester, Campus Dining will implement a new meal plan, expand operating hours and bring back pre-pandemic dining options, including The Pub. These changes come amid the appointment of Maria Portelli as senior director for Campus Dining after serving as assistant director since 2019.

All Access meal plan

The new All Access meal plan will allow students to swipe into residential dining halls (excluding Kissam Kitchen) an unlimited number of times per week and per day for 45 minutes of buffet-style dining. Students will be able to use one meal swipe per day at other dining locations like Rand, Kissam Kitchen, Holy Smokes, Grins Vegetarian Café, Local Java, Common Grounds and Suzie’s Cafés. The plan also includes $225 of Meal Money.

“We’re hopeful that the All-Access plan will be extremely beneficial to both first-year students and those living in residential colleges, allowing students to pop in and out of dining halls whenever they like,” Sean Carroll, senior director of marketing and auxiliary operations, said in an email to The Hustler. 

Nate Hunsberger, a junior, said he wishes other dining halls were included in the unlimited meal swipe option offered by this plan, such as Rand Dining Hall.

“One swipe a day at Rand is pretty limiting for an unlimited meal plan,” Hunsberger wrote in a message to The Hustler.

Commons turns all-you-can-eat

In addition to the new meal plan, Commons will transition to an all-you-can-eat style this fall. Students will no longer be limited to entrees, sides and drinks—a meal swipe here will now constitute unlimited food for 45 minutes at a time.

Sophomore Sarah Khobaib expressed enthusiasm for these changes.

“All-you-care-to-eat dining will make college life much easier,” Khobaib wrote in a message to The Hustler. “I can simply choose my favorite foods and complete my meal with one swipe.” 

To facilitate this change, Campus Dining is piloting VisionPass, an optional sign-in program that uses biometric scanners to grant students access to the Commons dining facility more quickly. The technology will use reference points of students’ faces to authenticate their identity, though students can still use their electronic or physical Commodore Card for entry

First-year Dylan Norman expressed some concerns about the new technology.

“Personally, it depends on what the data is used for, and whether they believe that the benefits of the use of facial recognition outweigh the lack of privacy inherent to it. However, personally, I prefer just using an ID.”

Per Campus Dining, signing up for biometric access to Commons will take less than a minute and will be available during the first week of classes in the Commons atrium. Interested students may enroll at the Commodore Card office in Sarratt later in the year as well. VisionPass will be available for anyone with a Commodore Card for free.

New dining spots and offerings

As part of Vanderbilt’s West End expansion, Rothschild College will open this fall, complete with a new dining hall serving South Asian, Italian and Grille cuisines in an all-you-can-eat style like Commons. At Rothschild, Campus Dining is also introducing “Home Grown” meals at Rothschild, featuring fresh, locally sourced ingredients from the Nashville area. 

After its two-year hiatus, The Pub will be returning Sundays through Thursdays with a revamped menu and a streamlined ordering process that is exclusively mobile order on the GET mobile app. The Pub will be reintroduced for students to enjoy Southern comfort food like hot chicken and Mexican cuisine as well as alcoholic drinks for those of age.

Senior Jessica Handwerker said she is excited about The Pub’s relaunch.

“I’m looking forward to going with friends, and I’m glad the underclassmen will get to experience this Vandy classic,” Handwerker said. 

In addition to these expanded dining locations, Local Java will be moving from the Sarratt Student Center to Alumni Hall to accommodate more students. Students will be able to sit inside or at one of the location’s two patios. The cafe will serve Frothy Monkey coffee espresso beverages, snacks and smoothies. Students may opt to use meal swipes for some options as well. Per Carroll, the final menu is still under development.

“The Sarratt location of Local Java is being repurposed as additional space for Card Services,” Carroll said. “We’re excited about the new space at Alumni.”

Kissam Kitchen will also be adding poke bowls to their lunch menu. This change comes as a result of the meal receiving favorable reviews on student survey data, according to Carroll.

Extended hours

Residential dining halls (Commons, EBI, Rothschild and Zeppos) will now offer continuous service from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT during the week. On weekends, hours will range from 9 a.m. CT to 8 p.m. CT. Continental breakfasts and other limited options will be offered between designated meal periods. Rand will continue to remain closed for dinner.

Carroll confirmed that all Munchie Marts across campus will close at 12 a.m. CT. However, Commons Munchie Mart will close for lunch between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. CT.

“It’s nice to see Vanderbilt put in more effort toward dining; the later Munchie hours, all-you-care-to-eat-dining and meal swipe access at Local Java will help me and my friends make the most of our campus experience,” Khobaib said.

Carroll encouraged students to voice concerns or feedback about Campus Dining by contacting a dining manager or using Campus Dining’s Text and Tell service.

“To use Text and Tell, send a text message to 55744. Begin your message with the location code (VUrand, VUcommons, VUebi, VUkissam, VUzeppos, VUbranscomb, VUrothschild, VUjava, and VUpub) followed by your comments,” Carroll said. “The location’s management team and chef can respond immediately to your concerns.”