story Ying Tong Lai
Yale-NUS College will decide on a dining hall vendor for its new campus by early May 2015. This decision will be made by the Office of the Dean of Students and the Dining Advisory Committee (DAC) with student input.
The final vendor chosen will supply meals in the dining hall for two years, with the possibility of extending its contract for an additional year. At the time of publication, Dean of Students Kyle Farley confirmed that the options have been narrowed down to three vendors. There will also be a cafe in the new campus, which will be run by either the dining hall vendor or a third party.
The DAC was formed in early February, and consists of five students, four Dean’s Fellows, Mr. Farley and Student Life Manager Chris O’Connell. At present, the DAC has moved on to food tastings, Mr. Farley said. The final decision will be based on feedback from the tastings, suggestions from the DAC, and proposals by vendors. The official contract will be signed by the President of the National University of Singapore (NUS), Professor Tan Chorh Chuan.
Dean’s Fellow Vanessa Kim, a member of the DAC, said the dining experience is an important part of college life at Yale-NUS, and “the food we provide has to be in line with this experience”. “We want people to stay as long as they want … and have a conversation that they’re interested in or meet new people,” she said.
The College intends to find a vendor that is receptive to suggestions. Ms. Kim said that discussions with vendors on the dining experience at the College happened before food tasting. “In our first conversation, we picked up on how receptive … they are about working with us. That’s the framework and the foundation,” she said.
Student input is taken seriously in the decision-making process. Already, student feedback has seen changes in the dining hall at Residential College 4, such as the addition of a “waffle station, … salad station, sandwich station [and] drinks that are soy products,” according to Roslyn Teng ’18, a member of the DAC. Margaret Schumann ’17, another DAC member, said the committee is working on a college-wide survey to collect feedback on the current dining hall vendor and suggestions for the dining hall at the new campus.
According to Schumann, some student feedback regarding the current dining hall include concerns with the lack of vegetarian options, quality of meat, amount of sugar in drinks and amount of oil in food. “Not many people have approached us, but we’d love to hear [more] feedback,” she added.
The budget per meal at the new dining hall is set to change. Currently, breakfast and lunch are provided under an NUS contract at a budget of $8 for breakfast and dinner combined, according to Mr. Farley. The College’s budget for each lunch meal stands at about $10. He said the new per-meal budget will be decided in about three weeks.
The move to the new campus may be a valuable experience. “I think the transition to the new campus will provide the opportunity to sort of reset the whole system, and we may have a very different quality of food because of the price change,” said Schumann.