Kissam Kitchen renovation plans canceled for Spring 2023 semester

In response to faculty and student feedback, Campus Dining told The Hustler that it is no longer proceeding with its former plans to temporarily close Kissam Kitchen after spring break for renovations.


Sean Onamade

Kissam Munchie Mart and Kitchen, captured on Jan. 17, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Sean Onamade)

Brina Ratangee and Sae-Eun Lee

Kissam Kitchen and Munchie Mart will remain open for the remainder of the Spring 2023 semester. In a Feb. 13 email to the Hustler, a Campus Dining representative said that the university has canceled the renovation plans for Kissam Kitchen based on student and faculty feedback.

Campus Dining attributed the decision to discussions with residential faculty and other campus partners.

“Through discussions with residential faculty and other campus partners, Dining leadership decided not to pursue any changes to Kissam at this time. There will be no major changes to the Kissam dining program for the duration of the spring 2023 semester,” the email reads.

Sophomore and Kissam resident Christopher Lofts expressed relief over Dining’s decision.

“As an avid fan of Kissam’s açaí bowls, I am relieved that I won’t have to walk all the way to Branscomb just to get food after dining hall hours,” Lofts said.

Senior Talia Sosinsky similarly praised the reversal, but criticized Campus Dining’s lack of consideration of the needs of students with gluten intolerances. She also called the lack of official notification regarding changes to Kissam Kitchen “unbelievably disrespectful,” sharing that she heard the news through dining staff and The Hustler.

The Hustler learned of the proposed renovations through dining staff; Rand General Manager Rebekah Beck confirmed on Jan. 13 that gluten-free options would be expanded in the fall, but neither Beck nor Campus Dining responded to The Hustler’s request for comment about Kissam’s temporary closure. 

The status of dining accommodations at Vanderbilt is still poor, but the decision to keep the main gluten-free dining location open is the correct one,” Sosinsky said in a message to The Hustler. “The onus was on affected students to reach out to the dining director or campus dietician, who were both coincidentally out of office for much of the two-week period following The Hustler’s original report.”

Campus Dining said its initial plan to renovate was motivated by its goal of “providing welcoming and inclusive spaces” for students.

“The Campus Dining team is committed to offering a world-class dining experience that meets the needs of our diverse community of scholars,” the email reads. “In support of that goal, we regularly assess our operations and make recommendations for future growth that best supports our students’ needs.”

Joseph Hatfield, Kissam Munchie Mart head retail clerk, said he and his coworkers are glad that Kissam will remain open for the remainder of the semester. 

“We are very pleased and happy for the students,” Hatfield said. “We’re always here for the students to provide a home away from home.”