High Hopes for Harvard Food
New Director Says Student Input Will Lead to Changes
After only three weeks in office, Harvard Dining Services Director Michael Berry says he will soon launch a series of changes aimed at improving both the quality and variety of food offered to undergraduates.
Berry, who assumed the role of director with the promise that he would value student input, will make several student-influenced proposals to improve the $21 million dining services at tomorrow's meeting of the Committee on Residential Life.
"Better values, more choices, and higher quality," Berry says are his current goals for the program.
Berry says he is currently considering several improvements, including an expanded "sandwich bar program," more self-service toppings bars, and an enlarged "hamburger program"--all the result of student input.
Although Berry would not say what his specific proposals for tomorrow's meeting are, he did say that no major alterations in policy will be implemented until fall.
Berry says that he pays particular attention to those menu items which are most and least popular among students. The Sunday brunch and the vegetarian dishes are items the students seem to like, Berry says.
Berry, however, does not rely on second or third-hand information to learn what students are saying about the food. Berry says he has dined with students in houses such as Leverett and Quincy, and frequently stops to confer with students working in the dining halls.
The new director says that while the dining services have undergone "modest improvements" in the past few years, he acknowledges that the program still has "much room to improve."
But, Berry says, there are major stumbling blocks on the road to improving the dining services at Harvard.
For example, Harvard suffers from a "collossal physical restraint," the director says. Space problems in the current dining and kitchen facilities may inhibit attempts to expand current services, Berry adds.
"Dining rooms are sacrosanct at Harvard," Berry says. Attempting to alter their appearance or facilities could provoke opposition from the University staff and student population, the director says.
Nor can the student demand for a partial meal plan program be satisfied without considering the dining hall's integral role in the housing package, Berry says.
However, these constraints have not deterred Berry from his continued search for improvements in food quality, preparation and service.
In light of the current economic recession, Berry further points out, his decisions will be aimed at fiscal responsibility as well as the satisfaction of student proposals and complaints.
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