What makes me proud of being a member of the Department of Dining Services is how, every day, we are able to meet the dining needs of the University of Connecticut’s diverse community. During each year, day in and day out, with no bearing on inclimate weather, road conditions or economic world affairs we prepare and serve in excess of 5,758,500 meals per year. We have come a long way since September 28, 1881, when the university provided meals for approximately twelve men, who were in residence at Whitney Hall, three faculty members and one or two staff. Today, Dining Services operates eight resident dining areas, eleven retail operations, two on-site bakeries, one gluten free, two levels of catering, a convenience store, two food trucks and we are preparing to open a Starbucks on our Waterbury campus.
Each day we try to “Rethink, Reinterpret and Reimagine” our operations. We work on new recipes, change menus, renovate, reconstruct and reinvent in an effort to keep us ahead of what our customers are demanding and at the same time be fiscally responsible. I am proud of the many employees that help us envision each day what we could be. They are the source of our dreams. They are the “imagineers” that make it all possible. In all of this we strive to provide the best value available. We want our customers to feel that they are receiving a positive dining experience.
As we move forward, this year dining has made several operational changes due to economic reasons. These changes were communicated to our students this past spring semester via their email, our website and articles in the school newspaper, The Daily Campus. The changes this fall are decreased service hours at Buckley Dining by eliminating weekend hours. Students will still have the opportunity to go a short distance from their residence and dine at South Dining or Whitney. Of course all of our other resident options are available since we have an open dining program here on campus. Another change is the closure of Lu’s Café. This small operation, while enjoyed by the students and occupants of the building, did not generate enough revenue to support its expenses.
Several areas of focus this year is to relook at our greening efforts made within our Dining Services. Our plan is to monitor the use of consumable resources and establish ways of decreasing our impact on UConn’s carbon footprint. Another initiative is to better track the source of our ingredients. As our consumers become more educated it is our desire to provide them with as much information as possible so that they can realize the effort that is placed on our farm to fork initiative. Dining Services feels it is important to know the first name of your farmer. Our Department is the largest consumer of Connecticut grown produce in the State and we are proud to be able to support our local economy.
In conclusion, we always welcome your feedback and ideas. Feel free to contact me via our website and let us know how we are doing. So, enjoy your semester, use your imagination, and strive to make your experience, this semester at the University of Connecticut, the best yet. We hope that by dining with us we are providing you with the dining options that will enable you to meet this end.
Eat Well, Enjoy Life, Pursue Your Dreams.
C. Dennis Pierce, Executive Director, UConn Dining Services