Scott Meyer

Photo Credit: Connor Murphy | Daily Texan Staff

Students consume about 77 percent more bananas than they do apples, according to 2013 data from the Division of Housing and Food Service, making them the most popular fruit sold by the University.

In 2013, the University purchased 238,320 bananas, while only purchasing 71,559 apples. Darla Stewart, DHFS assistant director for purchasing and procurement, said the University uses a food management software system to determine how many cases of bananas and other types of fruit should be purchased from the produce vendors who provide shipments daily.

“The [dining hall] managers will go into the system and forecast the number of students or customers they expect to have,” Stewart said. “They say, ‘OK, for this meal period — say, for lunch in [Jester Second Floor Dining] — we’ll probably have 1,500 people.’ They’ll enter 1,500, and the computer, using its data that has been put in, and historic data, will then come up with an amount that needs to be purchased.”

Stewart said the system, which has been in place for about 20 years, is accurate enough that there is rarely any leftover fruit.

“We utilize every bit of fruit,” Stewart said. “If, for instance, there are some bananas, which would be the only fruit that’s leftover, we freeze them and use them in our banana bread.”

According to Scott Meyer, DHFS food service director, besides leftover food items, fruits that sell out are also indicators of how much fruit to purchase.

“Every week, [the system is] updating itself,” Meyer said. “[If the system] told you to buy four cases of apples, and you used all four of them, you might want to get five cases next time.”

According to Stewart, increased methods of transportation have allowed fruit to be shipped globally, while still maintaining excellent quality.

“In the last 20 years, my bet is that there is more fruit being eaten now than then,” Meyer said. 

According to Stewart, the increased education regarding the values of eating fruits may be another reason for increased fruit consumption.

Biology senior Cameron Ginnings said he generally eats a banana once a week when he eats the fajitas in Jester City Limits, and that he makes use of the option in JCL to substitute any side with a piece of fruit or small salad.

“Whenever I get the fajitas, I like the beans, but I don’t like the rice, so I get a banana for a side,” Ginnings said. “[Bananas] taste good. That’s why I choose them over an apple.”

Although classes and most University offices were closed Friday as a result of freezing temperatures and icy roads, on-campus dining options remained open in a limited capacity. Kinsolving Dining Hall and Jester City Limits were the only two campus dining options to remain open during the inclement weather.

“[Kinsolving Dining and JCL] are the two central, large dining areas for the residents,” said Scott Meyer, director of food service in the Division of Student Affairs. “By focusing on these two dining areas, we were able to consolidate the staff who were able to make it into work and be sure to provide the largest number of residents with nutritious, high quality food options.”

Cafeteria workers were not surprised when they were asked to come into work because they are classified as essential employees, according to Meyer. This job classification comes with the understanding that workers might be called into work when other University employees have the day off, as they are integral to maintaining many crucial resources for students.

Advertising sophomore Tabbi Loter, who lives in Duren Hall, said she was not inconvenienced by the closures because she is already accustomed to limited hours at North Campus dining locations.

“I didn’t even realize that there were so many dining halls closed today,” Loter said. “I guess it’s because Littlefield and a lot of other places nearby have pretty bad hours on Fridays and holidays, so I guess I’m used to it.” 

All dining halls resumed regular operating hours by Saturday morning.

Photo Credit: Ricky Llamas | Daily Texan Staff

Students who frequent the popular dining halls in Jester Dormitory will have to find food elsewhere this July 4.

Jester food services, including Jester City Limits and Jester Second Floor Dining Room, or J2, will be closed from July 4 through July 6 in order to repair a leaking steam valve, which could become worse if left alone. 

These repairs will require steam to be cut off from the food service areas, said Laurie Lentz, communications manager for Facilities Services.

“What this means for the food service folks is that if they don’t have steam, they can’t have hot water,” Lentz said. “And of course they’re required to have hot water.”

Jester food services was originally not scheduled to close until the winter holidays, but the detection of the leak required the dining halls be closed for repair as soon as possible, said Scott Meyer, director of food service for the Division of Housing and Food Service. He said the Independence Day holiday was the best time for the closure. 

“The coming holiday weekend is our slowest time period in the entire summer,” Meyer said. “It’s not perfect, but it’s the best.”

While the dining halls in Jester are shut down for repairs, Cypress Bend, San Jacinto Residence Hall's dining area, will remain open for hungry students. 

“We’re going to make sure everyone gets the meals and nutrition they need,” Meyer said.

However, some students are still discouraged by the looming dining hall closures.

“I’ll probably be going to the drag more often,” advertising junior Lindsay Kelly said. “I know Cypress Bend is open, but there aren’t as many options, so it’s harder to find what you want.“

A student waits in line for food at the J2 dining hall in Jester Monday evening. The Division of Housing and Food Service planned for the dining hall to be finished with construction by the end of break but it is stil under renovation and should be completed by February 1st.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Hungry students returning from winter break hoped to enjoy a brand-new-looking Jester Second Floor Dining Room, or J2, but found part of it still under renovation.

While J2 opened Monday, the majority of the eatery was still under construction. Planning on revealing the newly upgraded buffet-style dining center, the project suffered a delay in construction.

“The contractor had some material issues that took about two weeks to straighten out,” said Scott Meyer, director of dining services at the Division of Housing and Food Service.

As previously reported by The Daily Texan on Nov. 27, the four-phase renovation began two years ago, but the largest phase is this final one, which cost just less than $4 million. When the construction is finished, students can expect to see new grills, pizza-serving areas, ovens for fresh-baked desserts and a rotating spice bar. The project features additional display cooking, beverage space and seating. Toward the end of the fall semester, the dining hall closed completely for renovation but offered students sack lunches.

Meyer said he is hoping for the project to be finished by the end of the month.

“We do expect the project to be totally complete on or before Feb. 1,” Meyer said. “We are hoping for an early completion. We certainly appreciate our customers’ continuing understanding.”

Even though the renovations are not yet completed, students still flocked to their favorite on-campus buffet for lunch. Meyer said about 1,100 students decided to eat lunch at J2.

Biomedical engineering senior Javier Solis was at J2 for lunch Monday despite the ongoing renovations.

“I’m already satisfied with J2,” Solis said. “It has always been fancy yet cheap, but I guess adding more is always better. I just want good food, and J2 never disappoints.”

Not everyone was as satisfied. Jessenia Rucoba, finance senior and a J2 regular, opted to go Jester City Limits instead.

“I love J2 for the variety they offer,” Rucoba said, “but during this long renovation, they’ve lost that.”

Printed on Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 as: J2 eatery opens despite renovation delays 

 

Food prep Scarleth Gomez hands a bag of cookies to a diner as part of Jester Second floor dining hall’s “grab ‘n go”  initiative while it undergoes renovation. 

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Students hoping to find the usual variety of pizzas, burgers, salads and desserts at the Jester Second Floor dining hall Monday had to settle for a construction zone and sack lunches instead.

Monday marked the first day of J2’s final phase of renovations, which will require all of the normal dining options to be reduced to a limited menu. In place of the normal unlimited buffet of food and drinks, students will be offered “grab ‘n go” meals, essentially sack lunches, for a reduced price. J2 is expected to return to its normal operating level by the beginning of the spring semester.

The most recent work on J2 is the fourth and final phase in a project with an estimated cost of more than $14 million, Scott Meyer, director of food service, said.

“J2 renovation started six years ago with student-driven committees and evolved to a work in progress,” Meyer said. “The last phase is the toughest as it encompasses the core section of the floor — all the utilities and two elevators needed to be worked around.”

Some students hoping to dine at J2 on Monday decided to try other options after learning of the reduced menu. One of those students, undeclared freshman Elizabeth Schroeder, said the renovations and limited menu will require her to spend more money.

“It’s a total bummer because I eat here every lunch and dinner pretty much Monday through Friday,” Schroeder said. “I’m going to have to go eat in [Jester City Limits] and waste a bunch of money.”

Others, including radio-television-film freshman Christian Chanter, said the renovations are an inconvenience, but do not plan on avoiding J2 entirely.

“I actually wasn’t expecting this, but it’s still cheaper than JCL,” Chanter said. “So you get a complete meal and you still pay like half the price of JCL so it’s still worth it to me.”

Meyer said the renovations should not cause students to pay more. Instead, Meyer said, the prepackaged meals costs $2.95 each for students using Dine In Dollars, less than normal J2 prices.

Students living on campus are allocated $1,400 in Dine In Dollars for the school year to spend at dining halls.

“I would expect a good number of students will save and not spend more,” Meyer said.

Meyer said students who want an unlimited buffet can still eat at the Kinsolving dining hall.

Aside from the impact on dining options, students living in and around Jester can expect to see and hear more construction through the remainder of the semester. Until the end of finals, construction is set to take place only after 10 p.m., Meyer said.

Printed on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 as: J2 renovation limits menu

Kinsolving dining hall employee Dina Bricker serves food to a student during the annual African American Cultural Dinner Tuesday evening. The dinner, which featured foods such as fried chicken, cornbread and jumbalaya, was held during Black History Month in order to celebrate African-American cuisine.

Photo Credit: Shea Carley | Daily Texan Staff

An African American Cultural Dinner featuring items such as fried chicken and cornbread was held at Kinsolving and Jester dining halls on Tuesday in celebration of Black History Month. Jazz and blues music played at the events.

The dinner, which was hosted by the Division of Housing and Food Service, has been held for over 10 years during Black History Month to emphasize the culinary aspect of the African-American culture, said Scott Meyer, director of food service for the University. The menu was crafted with a reliance on menus used in past years as well as African-American staff members who helped contribute ideas, he said. About 1,200 students attended the meal at J2 and 1,300 attended at Kinsolving.

Meyer said some students may have never been exposed to certain food, and the DHFS hosts different culture-themed dining meals to help make students more multi-culturally aware.

“Food is a centerpiece of all cultures,” Meyer said. “All cultures have different foods that we may identify with them or they may identify with themselves.”

Meyer said the University hosts these themed dinners about once a month, and each one costs approximately $3,000 to cover the two dining facilities.

“In the scope of an entire year this is a relatively small amount when compared to the impact the dinner will provide,” Meyer said.

Meyer said he has never had anyone complain because they were offended by the use of the culture in a themed dinner.

“Occasionally I’ll have somebody that will complain about ‘I wanted to get my pizza tonight, and all you had that was normal was hamburgers and chicken breast,’” Meyer said.

English freshman Ariana Brown said celebrating Black History Month by having a special dinner is unproductive and doesn’t serve a purpose in celebrating black history.

“I feel like when people think ‘black history’ they need to know it’s more than fried chicken and jazz music,” Brown said. “I don’t see how eating fried chicken celebrates my black history.”

Brown said celebrating Black History Month as though the issue of race equality is a thing of the past is offensive.

“We have made some progress, but I don’t feel like we’re done yet,” Brown said. “We can celebrate when we’re done.”

Plan II freshman Chelsea O’Hara went to the dinner and said she enjoyed the food.

“We really appreciate the time Kinsolving puts into in creating the environment and meal,” O’Hara said. “To me, it’s not so much the cultural experience food-wise but the dining experience they create.”

Printed on Wednesday February 22, 2012 a: Dining halls celebrate Black History Month