by Bridget Reilly
Student Congress Publicity
On Tuesday, February 4, Student Congress welcomed Josef Quirinale, general manager of Sodexo. Quirinale oversees all dining at Providence College and recently helped to make multiple changes to PC’s dining halls in order to meet student needs.
Quirinale gave updates concerning the changes made to Raymond Dining Hall. He stated that changes to the way meat, specifically chicken, is cooked has increased student consumption and Sodexo will continue to evaluate their facilities as students give feedback. Newer options in Ray Dining Hall have also led to students making healthier food choices.
For example, PC students have eaten 30 percent fewer chicken nuggets this semester. Josef Quirinale also informed the members of Congress that there is an on-staff dietician available for all students. Michelle Switach, RDN, is available on-campus four days a week and reachable via email as well (email@example.com).
He also mentioned that he is reachable via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to all students regarding dining hall feedback.
Members of Congress gave feedback regarding the new updates to the dining options. One member brought up some issues with the way Take 3 is separated into specific sections, giving students fewer options for meals.
Quirinale also updated Congress on the new training that PC’s Sodexo staff underwent during the break. All staff members and Resident Assistants took part in safety training in order to keep the dining halls and food up to par.
The Board of Multicultural Student Affairs (BMSA) introduced an updated constitution, with changes to language and grammar to increase inclusivity. Members of the congress will vote on the piece next week.
Student Congress meets every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in Ruane LL05 and is open to everyone.
Order Up!: Raymond Dining Hall Delivers on Improvements
by Hannah Langley ’21
Over the past couple years, Raymond Dining Hall has gone through several developments, renovations, and remodels. Recently, however, students have become more and more aware of certain areas in which the dining hall is lacking in, such as food quality and choices. This spring semester, the dining hall services are working to ensure that the incidents and complaints of the past will not be repeated.
In November 2019, a Providence College student eating at Ray found a parasitic worm in their cod fish. Shortly after this incident, the College addressed it in an email, stating, “The fish contained a roundworm known as a nematode… While there are no health issues related to the ingestion of the serving in question (the student did not eat the fish), we are eliminating cod from the menu going forward…”
Several other incidents regarding food quality and sanitation were later reported. As stated in a petition called “Boycott Raymond Dining Hall,” “In the past 2 weeks, a parasitic worm, 2 bugs, and shards of glass were found in various foods in Raymond Dining Hall at Providence College,” as documented in photographs and videos.
“My roommates and I decided to create the petition after events in Ray that had happened in the weeks prior to its creation,” said Collin Malloy ’22, one of the creators of the petition. The petition received over 3,000 supporters and prompted a forum where students addressed their concerns to Sodexo employees.
To address these recent concerns, the College and Sodexo have taken several steps to try and improve the dining experience for PC students at Ray. Josef Quirinale, general manager of Raymond Dining Hall, discussed many of the changes recently implemented to hopefully create a better overall experience for the PC community. Malloy and Quirinale both stated how the two largest concerns students had were the quality of the food and the transparency between the students and staff about concerns and suggestions.
While Quirinale said they have not changed where they get their food from, he assured that the product they buy is of high quality and produce is cleaned several times. In light of recent concerns, however, Quirinale has talked to the companies, making sure the product sent to them is handled properly and checked for any quality concerns. Ray employees have also been told to check their product even more carefully to avoid future incidents.
Quirinale stated that while they are able to fix many factors, such as food options, other things are out of their control due to the age of the facility. “The problem is this is a pretty dated facility,” stated Quirinale, which has made it difficult to keep up with the standard of service most PC students are used to outside of school.
Quirinale has taken many steps, however, to try and improve the dining experience at Ray for PC students. “We redesigned the stations so more of what we do is ‘just in time,’” said Quirinale, “which creates a better, fresher tasting product.” He stated that many students think there is a difference between the food at Alumni and Ray, but the only difference, he said, is that the food at Alumni is made to order rather than premade, which makes for a better product.
To fix this, one of the major changes Ray has made is at the grill, where burgers are now made to order rather than ahead of time and left under a heating lamp. The chicken, rather than being at the grill, is now found at the salad bar, where it is pre-cooked and sliced for convenience. Quirinale said that the way they cook the chicken has been changed so that it makes it fresher and more enjoyable to eat in a variety of ways. He thinks the students have noticed the difference, as well. On average, Quirinale said, the dining hall used to go through about 90 pounds of chicken per day. On the first Monday of the new semester, they went through 240 pounds, a noticeable difference.
One of the changes Quirinale was most excited about was the expansion of the u-cook station. He said he noticed the popularity of the station last semester, and decided to add three more burners so that students did not have to wait as long. Along with the addition of burners, brown rice was added with the white rice and a larger refrigerated station will be coming in the next several weeks to add more options to the current station.
Some of the other changes have included an additional made-to-order station where pizza used to be every day, breakfast until 11 a.m. every day, and with the additions of a daily omelet bar until 10:30 a.m. and smoothie bar until 10 a.m. More vegetarian and vegan protein options have also been added to the vegan station, as well as an updated pizza menu, and waffles available all day.
Students with unlimited, 15-meal, and 11-meal plans will also have an additional amount of Friar Bucks added to their account by the College in order to “give more students flexibility in dining options,” as stated in an email sent by the school on Jan. 11.
Quirinale also stated that a complete renovation of Ray is in the process, as they have begun looking at other colleges to see how they are set up, prepare their food, and function to make it more up-to-date. “There is a whole new way of producing food now than when this building was built,” said Quirinale.
Above anything else, Quirinale encourages students to voice their concerns to himself or other Ray employees. “We’re here to serve, but we can’t serve unless we know what students want,” said Quirinale. “I want students to come forward and say this is what I’d like to see,” he said, “and if a student comes to us, we can take care of it for them, and then we can go to our supplier to ask why that happened and stop it from happening again.”
While it is still early in the year to see whether or not the changes at Ray have made an impact on students, the employees at Sodexo are working hard to implement changes that will create a better overall experience for PC students.
Unleash Your Inner Culinary Capabilities and Creativity: Raymond Dining Hall Sets Up New U -Cook Station
by Max Waite ’21
Earlier this month, Raymond Dining Hall premiered its brand-new “U-Cook” station to the Providence College community.
This new station provides an opportunity for students to have a more unique dining experience, as students can personally prepare their own food.
The station currently features mainly breakfast items such as eggs and vegetables, but students are free to roam the food court and toss into their sauté pan whatever ingredients are necessary to make their dining experience unique.
It is new, fun opportunities like this that Stuart Gerhardt, manager of Raymond Dining Hall, is always looking to implement into the College’s dining hall. Gerhardt stated, “A lot of students say that they wish that they could cook for themselves, so the opportunity was there to try to create a station where we could put different items on it, and then kids could go up to it and cook what they want.”
As part of the development process of the U-Cook station, Gerhardt consulted the Student Congress Food Committee. This committee represents every class, and is a place where ideas on how to add things or make things different in the dining hall are discussed.
The idea of a self-cook type station in Ray was “always in discussion,” said Gerhardt. Finally, a set of equipment was provided in order to experiment with how students would utilize the station.
Gerhardt is pleased with the results of the station so far and looks forward to further improving the station in the near future with some more permanent equipment.
The main idea behind the U-Cook station is creativity, as the station thrives on the creativity of young minds.
Sean Breuche ’21 expressed his strong approval of the up-and-coming food station. “I really enjoy cooking food for my family when I am home, and I take pride in my ability to successfully experiment with different foods to see what I come up with. Now, with the new self-cooking station, I can cook up whatever I’m hungry for that will help me get along with my day.”
Even students without a culinary background manage to find a way to enjoy a wholesome meal, while at the same time acquiring a new skill set at the new self-cook station.
Peter Abbe ’21 said, “I really enjoy the new U-Cook station. As a cooking novice, I feel a great sense of accomplishment after I prepare a meal for myself. The next time I’m home, I definitely want to put my skills to the test in my own kitchen!”
Other changes to the dining experience at Ray include a Tuesday night protein carving on the comfort line for students to enjoy. Now that the U-Cook station has emerged onto the scene, many students have been wondering if there are any other cool additions to the dining hall that could potentially come to fruition in the near future.
Ultimately, Gerhardt and his team at Ray, along with the Student Congress Food Committee are always looking for some new ideas to bring to the table. These ideas can come from trade magazines, websites, and even other schools’ dining halls.
But what really matters is our opinion as a Friar Family. Thus, students are encouraged to offer their own insights and recommendations to the Student Congress Food Committee, whether positive or negative.
From there, these ideas can be discussed so that our overall dining experience can fulfill our expectations.