49°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Sunlight, Clean Carpets and Plenty of Ketchup: New Food Court Opens

Last week, UMass students got their first look at the new 700-seat food court located in the recently opened Campus Center. The new food court offers its patrons a fresh look, a comfortable atmosphere and a bright, clean place to relax and connect with friends. The cafeterias located in the McCormack and Wheatley buildings have been closed.

The design of the new food court, which opened Monday, March 22, is an improvement over the dark, often dirty eating quarters formerly offered to the UMass community, and many students approve of the new digs.

Randeep Vinepal, a psychology major, commented, “It’s a nice environment,” and, “I like the whole design of it.” Tim Smith, an exercise science major, remarked, “It’s nice to have a clean place to eat.”

The students also see the new food court as more than just a place to have a meal. “I think it brings people together, a sense of community,” said Obi Mbawuike, an economics major.

The Campus Center was designed build a feeling of community which is sometimes lacking at this commuter school, and the food court is not excepted. Michael Forcier, the general manager of the food services company, Sodexho, which operates the food court, agreed saying, “It’s a culture change for everyone.”

Despite the positive feedback on the new environment, a few students did take issue with some of the problems the new food court has been experiencing, including long lines at the cash registers.

Leo Baryudin, a psychology major observed, “This place is nice but…it seems slow.” Vinepal attributed the long lines to the cashiers’ inexperience with the new cash registers, “People didn’t know how to run the machines properly,” he said. Other students attributed the problem to the bottleneck effect created by a limited number of cashiers in one centralized food court.

Forcier said that the long lines “have to do with the cashiers learning the new systems,” adding assurance that he understands student anxieties, saying “I know time is of the essence.”

The problem, he says, will clear up once the staff becomes better acquainted with the new technology, and “They’re already adjusting.” Forcier says even if the problems persist, “We have ways to minimize that,” explaining, “That means adding another cashier stand or adding cashiers.”

Another student, who wished to remain unnamed, put the blame on the university. “I think it was a big mistake to close all the cafeterias. It’s unfair to the students,” he argued. “There are too many students going to a single cafeteria. I think it’s just such poor planning.”

Students also complained about the prices of meals, some of which have increased. “They need to lower the prices on the food,” commented Smith.

Forcier admits, “Some of our prices have changed,” but attributes the changes to portion size increases. He defended the quality of the food served and commented that “Our prices are still lower than any [similar] place you’ll find.”

Although the new food court has experienced a few speed bumps in its opening, Forcier is determined to clear them up. He is urging students to speak up if they have any concerns over the service or the atmosphere. “If we’re missing the mark on anything we want to know,” he said, “We’ll do everything in our power to address students’ concerns.”