Val Begins Trial Period for Extended Afternoon Hours
Issue   |   Tue, 04/12/2016 - 23:58

Valentine Dining Hall introduced a three-week trial program that offers a limited menu on weekdays from 2 to 4:30 p.m. During these expanded hours, the dining hall will open the salad bar, deli, cereal bar, desserts and beverages to students. The program officially began on Monday, April 11.

Students on the meal plan can now swipe into Valentine between 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or eat once at Grab-N-Go, which continues to operate from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. On the first day of the trial period, 72 students swiped into the dining hall between 2:30 and 4 p.m.

Fathima Rizwan, a staff member in dining services who works at the swipe-in counter, has shifts both before and after the afternoon hours. “A number of temporary staff will come in to fill the new time slot,” she said.

Director of dining services Charlie Thompson said that the idea for the trial period originated from feedback from students who were looking for more afternoon food options.

Several criteria will be taken into account in order to assess whether the program will be continued past the end of the trial period, including popularity among students and the cost of operating during the extended hours.

Thompson said that the program “will also allow dining services to assess what can be accomplished by our existing staffing model and [to learn] where we may need additional staff. We will be gathering data on how many people will come through Val during the extended period, giving us hard numbers to base our labor and food requirements needed for the program.”

Evgenia Trufanova, a teaching assistant in the Russian department, said that she was excited to learn that both the salad bar and deli will be available throughout the afternoon.

Cullen Gillespie ’18 said that the dining hall will provide a “nice and quiet place to work and grab a mid-afternoon coffee.”
According to Steven Mallory ’19, the expanded hours were a welcome change, although more options could be offered. “I like that we have something to eat now, but we don’t have anything except for sandwiches or cereal or something,” Mallory said.
David Zhang ’17 said that these expanded hours could offer a potential social space. “This school lacks an unproductive social hub, a leisurely public space, and Val in the afternoon could provide that,” Zhang said.

Zhang also suggested that Valentine’s program might reduce activity in Frost. “With Val open in the afternoons, I think that people will go to Frost Cafe a lot less,” Zhang said.

The trial period marks another effort by the dining hall staff to expand dining options for students in recent years. In the fall of 2013, after a two-week trial period, dining services established Grab-N-Go in Keefe Campus Center.