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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
He also mentioned that he is reachable via email (email@example.com) 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.
Welcome to the Friar Food Family: Raymond Dining Hall Takes On New General Manager
by Peter Mazzella ’22
Recently Raymond Dining Hall welcomed a new general manager, Josef Quirinale, to its family. Although this is a new position for Quirinale, it is not his first position at Providence College, working as a resource manager last fall.
Quirinale spent his career across the east coast working in the food industry. Working for Sodexo for almost 20 years, he has traveled to different schools to make dining experiences as good as they can be.
He started off at the University of Vermont, which set him up for new opportunities in the field. Following that, he continued his work at State Universiy of New York-Plattsburgh. His final position before PC was at Keene State College in New Hampshire.
In his first semester as a general manager at Ray, Quirinale has enacted many changes, such as a full-time dietician, the Simple Servings station, and the hiring of a new chef.
His first major change has been the acquisition of a dietician, Michelle Switach, who will be responsible for designing nutrition programs to ensure that each dish reflects a healthy diet, so that all students can have multiple options at each station for a balanced meal.
Quirinale’s second change was helping to open the Simple Servings station, which is a station where all foods are free of the eight major allergens. Each employee who works at Simple Servings is AllerTrain certified by MenuTrinfo.
Finally, the addition of a new chef to the team has brought many new options, along with the intent of the least amount of waste possible. In line with this new initiative, fresh food is now scheduled to be prepared according to how much is left over after students dine in.
One thing that Quirinale is looking to bring to Ray in the second semester is a smoothie bar, not only for Tuesday and Thursday, but for the whole week. He thinks this is a great way to start the day, and Ray is looking into ways to make this happen.
Something that the staff is particularly excited about is the addition of fresh grilled chicken to the salad bar, where they will be removing the chicken from the grilling station by the burgers and reserving that grill for fresh hot sandwiches. This will bring many new dining options, along with burgers that will be fresh off the grill every time.
Finally, something that is very important to Quirinale, as well as the rest of the staff, is the feedback they receive. He states, “It is your dining experience,” talking about PC students. Quirinale said Ray is always looking to improve. The feedback forms in the dining hall are the main way that the staff can discuss changes that will bring an all-around better experience to each student.
Quirinale spoke on his thoughts about the atmosphere that Ray tries to bring, which is consistent with PC’s emphasis on community.
“I think it’s important that you have one dining facility that is a community space, where everyone can meet. Many campuses this size will have two or three resident dining facilities, but this brings everyone together.”
In his first semester as general manager, Quirinale and his team have made many changes to improve the dining experience that most PC students have on a day-to-day basis. His close relationship with the staff at Ray is one of the main reasons for the success that has been accomplished this year.
New Year, New Look, New Ray: Raymond Dining Hall’s Newest Renovations and Redesigns
This past summer, multiple changes and innovations were made to the layout of Raymond Dining Hall, including an upgrade to the beverage and breakfast stations and the addition of what Stuart Gerhardt, general manager of Ray, calls a “soft lounge.”
One of the biggest renovations made to the dining hall is the addition of a lounge area toward the back corner of Ray. The lounge includes new couches, cushioned chairs, vinyl chairs, high top tables, and multiple outlets for charging devices.
“We wanted to expand beyond the traditional dining hall,” explained Gerhardt. “And make a comfort area where people can sit and hang out and relax.” With multiple outlets now accessible and comfortable seating arrangements, Gerhardt is hopeful that students will find the area helpful and use it frequently. He said that if enough students show interest in the new area, they will definitely consider adding more of these lounges throughout Ray.
Gerhardt, who has been the general manager of Ray for over eight years now, recognized the need for an update to many aspects of the dining hall. “The beverage stations,” he said, “were pretty old and beat up.” The new Coke Freestyle and Minute Maid machines are much more efficient and provide a better product for the students, explained Gerhardt.
Not only have these machines been replaced, but new water fountains and filtration units will be installed both at the beverage stations and at the main entrance to Ray.
Along with the beverages, other stations throughout the dining hall have also been moved to accommodate students and create a better flow. The breakfast station is now one long station that includes the usual bagels and bread, along with new conveyor toasters, cream cheese, jelly, and butter station, with cereal at the end. The goal, Gerhardt explained, is to help make things move more efficiently and smoothly for students and to reduce the lines and waiting time as much as possible.
The dessert table has also been moved toward the dish return in the hopes that students will be more inclined to take a quick treat before heading out the door.
Gerhardt also highlighted the replacement of all of the black plastic plates and bowls with nicer white porcelain dishes. He knows adding the nicer plates and bowls creates a risk of greater breakage, but believes the overall cost and experience outweighs this potential hazard.
Gerhardt also understands that renovating the stations is not the last thing that needs change at Ray. “We want to improve the aesthetics, look, flow, and efficiency,” Gerhardt said. “But that also means enhancing the food and enhancing the product.” After hiring a new chef this summer, Gerhardt is hopeful that Ray will continue to improve its food offerings and overall experience throughout the year and beyond.
Gerhardt also talked about how all of these changes are part of a bigger “master plan” for not only the dining hall, but PC’s entire campus. He mentioned how John Sweeney, vice president of business and finance, has been part of the whole process in renovating Ray and other parts of campus.
Most notably, returning students will notice the removal of the stairway that used to lead toward Ray. The new stairway, Gerhardt argued, not only leads directly to a path to the circle and creates a better flow of traffic for students, but also opens up the area. The stairway will be replaced with greenery, and new picnic tables will be added to the lawn area next to Ray.
Additional changes students can look forward to are the extension of Flo’s to Go’s hours, to 7:00 p.m. and Ray’s Sunday hours to 8:00 p.m. Gerhardt is also hoping to have a beginning of the year BBQ sometime in early September, as well as several other late-night food events.
While much has already changed in Ray over the past year or two, Gerhardt hopes this is only the beginning. He has several plans already in the works that he hopes will help enhance the experience of eating at Ray for the entire student body and PC community.
Nutrition 101: Raymond Dining Hall Hosts Upcoming Nutrition Classes
Max Waite ’21
After spring break, Providence College students can look forward to new health and nutrition classes being taught in Raymond Dining Hall.
Samantha Therrien, a manager and dietician at Ray with a master’s degree in nutrition, has always wanted to provide an informative opportunity for students to learn about tasty nutritious options that they can incorporate into their diets. So, when an old professor from Framingham State University reached out to her with an idea for someone to come teach nutrition classes at the College, Therrien was immediately intrigued. Therrien stated that the PC student body would serve as the “audience for our own unique lesson plan.”
The instructor of the upcoming classes is Tanisha Amaral, a graduate student studying nutrition and education at Framingham State University.
Recently, Therrien and Amaral have collaborated in order to create lesson plans that are unique and fit well within our community. According to Therrien, these nutrition classes will be provided part-time, for they are serving as a “trial-run” in the development process.
There are three upcoming classes for students to attend within the next month. Students will be allowed to attend these classes without using a meal swipe, and healthy snacks will be provided for the attendees.
The first class will be held on Tuesday, March 19 at 3:30 p.m. The main topics to be covered are how to replace high fat or high calorie foods with more nutritious options, a discussion on healthy versus unhealthy fats, and how to properly read food labels.
The second class will be held on Friday, March 29 at 3:30 p.m. This session will discuss the process of choosing nutritious foods whether you are in the dining hall or enjoying a nice meal from any of the amazing restaurants throughout Providence.
This class will also go into detail on how to incorporate fruits, vegetables, protein, and other ingredients into a delicious, yet healthy meal. Ultimately, this class will be all about general healthy eating and making good, nutritious choices wherever you are.
The third class will be next month on Tuesday, April 2 at 3:30 p.m. Though the specifics of this class have not been planned out just yet, it will go over how to prepare healthy options on your own, whether you are home or in your dorm room.
These events are particularly great for students with kitchens, as it will provide them with new ideas for meals to prepare. They will also certainly aid students who enjoy fitness, but do not necessarily know how to properly incorporate nutrition into their daily lives.
Michael Havens ’21 is excited for the upcoming classes, as he believes that he will learn a lot about how to improve his diet. “I’ve been trying to go to the fitness center whenever I can, but at the end of the day, I feel like I’m not making any progress because of my eating habits. Hopefully after attending these classes, I can learn how to restrain my urges to eat junk food and lean more towards healthy options.”
Therrien hopes to have these classes continue into the fall semester. In addition to the classes, Therrien is interested in possibly setting up tables at the dining hall with different healthy snacks displayed for students to try. This way, students can learn about the benefits of the ingredients which they are eating, and perhaps incorporate these nutritious ingredients into their own diet.
Posters promoting these new nutrition classes will be put up throughout the dining hall in the near future, and students are encouraged to sign up for these classes by contacting Samantha Therrien at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Remodeled, Repainted, Removed
Ray Revamps Over the Summer with Redone Stations and Color Scheme
by Hannah Langley ’21
Coming back to Providence College this year, many returning students were shocked and confused by the multiple changes Raymond Dining Hall had made to its décor and service stations.
Stuart Gerhardt, general manager of Ray, explained that these changes were long overdue. Gerhardt has been working as Ray’s general manager for eight years now, and noted that this was the first renovation the building has seen since his coming here. “The colors were old and tired,” Gerhardt said. “We want to keep the facilities fresh… something that gives you a ‘wow’ factor.”
To help with the redesigning, PC hired a design build company which specialized in researching trends and preferences across various college campuses through statistics, surveys, and observations. “It’s about being proactive and looking at trends,” said Gerhardt.
Among the several changes made to Ray, one of the most noticeable and prominent is the change of color scheme inside. The walls and pillars, which were once simply white and black, are now a vibrant green and yellow. Gerhardt talked about the colors, saying he was skeptical about the change at first, as well. “When the green first went up, I kind of went ‘Oh no,’” he noted, “but you get used to it, and it does what it needs to do. It brightens the space and grows on you in a positive way.”
Another change was the addition of icons on the entrance windows and above each of the stations. “Today everything is based on an icon,” Gerhardt explained, “instead of words we switched to icons that make sense” in regards to the food served.
Another prominent change was the removal of the “theme station.” Gerhardt explained that the station was taken away in an effort to reduce lines and maximize space. “We wanted to look at the overall flow of the space,” Gerhardt noted, “and the easiest thing to do was eliminate theme and open up the area.” The decision, according to Gerhardt, has made other stations much more accessible.
Gerhardt also emphasized the point that the dishes typically served at the Theme Station have not been completely eliminated from Ray’s menu. “We eliminated the station, but we didn’t eliminate the items,” Gerhardt reassured. Gerhardt said that once the first few weeks of school are over and the freshmen get acclimated to the school, favorites, such as the mashed potato bar, will be reintroduced to the menu at different stations.
The vegetarian station, which is now the comfort station, is operating under a similar idea. “What we took away from the vegetarian station is still accessible,” Gerhardt noted.
One idea Gerhardt wanted to focus on was the fact that while certain items may no longer be on the menu as frequently, students are still more than welcome to create their own dishes and meals with what is available to them. “Sometimes students need to have a little bit of creativity,” said Gerhardt. He continued, saying, “Students should look at what’s available at each station to create what they want.” For example, Gerhardt pointed out that an extra panini grill has been added near the condiment station so that students can create their own sandwiches and paninis without having to wait in line. “You need to be creative in your own way,” Gerhardt said.
Another point that Gerhardt wanted to make is that while this is the first renovation in many years in Ray, it will not be the last. He talked about how the plan for Ray’s future includes renovations if not every semester, every year, so that the space does not become outdated. “By renovating over an extended period of time, we will be able to keep the ‘wow’ factor,” Gerhardt commented, “and add new things to replace things that didn’t work so well.” For the future, Gerhardt sees the beverage stations being reorganized to make things fresher and more accessible.
Gerhardt understands that change can be difficult for everyone. “What’s different for current students isn’t new for incoming students,” Gerhardt explained. “We do things because we’re looking for positive impact. We’re always trying to improve.”
Students should continue to look for future changes in Ray during the coming years.