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.

August 17, 2019

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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 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.

Sustainability 

  • 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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