New offerings are now provided in the Margie and Gus Hart Dining Hall by Aramark, the food provider in contract with the College, with an emphasis on making the menu more healthy for students.

The changes come after Student Government sought feedback from students at the end of the 2017 spring semester and communicated results to the cafeteria’s leadership team.

“One notable change is the increase of fresh fruit in the cafeteria,” said Jeremy Levinson, Student Government president. “When the survey was conducted last year and students had the chance to list what specific changes they would like to make, more fresh fruit options were the most highly requested addition.”

Aramark had a nutritionist from the University of Chicago visit to help assess ways the cafeteria can serve healthier options. In addition, Jason Micenko, food service director for Aramark at Lake Forest College, said the chef and production manager were sent to the University of Kentucky for a weeklong training with other Aramark employees to develop best, universal practices across the company with a strong emphasis on cooking, too.

Fresh fruit was among the many changes included in the revamping of the menu, with Aramark’s decision to practically eliminate bagged produce and canned fruits entirely with 90 percent of the vegetables now being fresh, according to Micenko.

Most of these fresh vegetables can be found in the salad bar, which saw 11 new additions since last semester.

The grill station now offers burgers, and veggie burgers can be made to order, with the selection rotating on occasion, Micenko added.

The wrap and deli station were combined to make room for the “destination station,” which has already featured plates such as California rolls. This station is meant to bring meals from around the world, said Kenny Simpson, dining hall manager.

“We’ve also offered the Middle Eastern Mediterranean salad,” he said. “We are really touching on many different areas, especially the Mediterranean area to help promote more healthy lifestyles and options in the dining hall.”

Simpson also said they have become more allergy-conscious as well, in addition to now having more vegan and vegetarian options for those with specific dietary needs.

The pizza station will no longer carry a specialty pizza accompanied next to the cheese and pepperoni options. Instead, there will be more baked casseroles and soups,  Micenko said.

Because Aramark workers keep strict production records that count the number of meals that are being served at each station, many of the fan-favorites will be back, for example, like the create your own pasta, Micenko said.

A new meal plan was added to the current plans offered. The 20-all-access plan allows the individual to come to the cafeteria as much as they’d like, with specific benefits made available to these plan-holders, like last month’s exclusive nacho bar.

The cafeteria will also be open between 2 and 4:30 p.m.—something that was not offered in previous years. At this time, the deli station will be turned around, becoming a self-service option for students swiping in during that time.

Part of Aramark’s initiatives to evoke healthier eating included bringing in Mary Cummings, a certified nutritionist from Grand Valley State University, who talked with students on their healthy options in the cafeteria during lunch in late September.

Natalie Mariduena ‘18, who’s eaten at the cafeteria for three years, said the improvements since last semester are substantial, especially with the salad bar.

“Having the same  few veggies on my salad each day gets really monotonous and bland,” she said. “I like being able to change it up day to day and now I can.”

Matt Demirs can be reached at


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