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Science Center Clover Up and Running, But Without BoardPlus

Clover in the Science Center
Clover, which is not accepting Board Plus, opened in the renovated Science Center this fall.
Clover Food Lab—the Science Center eatery that replaced Greenhouse Cafe—has opened to mixed reviews, with some students praising the food but others disappointed that the local chain will not take BoardPlus.

The College announced that Clover would move into the renovated Science Center last semester, splitting the student body along culinary lines. Though some students—particularly vegetarians—said they were excited to grab chickpea fritters and pour-over coffee closer to class, others were upset that the fast-food favorite Greenhouse would not be returning.

But beyond the absence of pizza and burritos, some students say they are also frustrated that—due to University rules—Clover will not be able to take BoardPlus, the the automatic $65 per semester loaded onto each student ID and intended to increase flexibility in eating options. Because Clover is not operated by Harvard University Dining Services, students will not be able to spend BoardPlus there, according to HUDS spokesperson Crista Martin.

“Because [BoardPlus] is part of the board program and subject to the relevant tax implications and restrictions surrounding financial aid and educational funding, it cannot be used by non-HUDS operators such as Clover,” Martin wrote in an email. “They are for-profit entities not captured under the same tax rules as a non-profit educational entity.”

However, Clover CEO and founder Ayr Muir said the location will accept Crimson Cash soon.

“We had conversations with Harvard about that and last spring formally requested again that [BoardPlus] be considered, and it’s not something that Harvard is considering,” Muir said. “I’m super sympathetic to people who would love to use BoardPlus, but we can’t do it.”

Still, as a SEAS student who frequently has classes near the Science Center, Rebecca L. Gracia ’18 said she wished the convenient eatery could take BoardPlus.

“As an engineer, it was a little disappointing to see that the Greenhouse space was replaced by somewhere that we couldn’t utilize BoardPlus, especially after long lab hours and if you accidentally worked through the dining hall hours,” Garcia said. “You’re forced to spend money either way, whether that’s at Clover or elsewhere.”

Saskia M. Keller ’18 said that while she enjoys Clover’s food—“I eat there a lot,” she said—she was also disappointed about payment options.

“I immediately heard that they weren’t accepting BoardPlus and that was a little bit disappointing, especially since I used to go to the Greenhouse a lot and use my BoardPlus that way,” she said. “Honestly, this semester I’m not really planning on using very much BoardPlus at all. There isn’t really anywhere I can go.”

The announcement that Clover would occupy prime real estate in a main campus thoroughfare came as a surprise to some: When Greenhouse Cafe closed in summer 2016 during renovations of the Cabot Science Library, a University spokesperson said the cafe would reopen the next year.

Instead, Harvard ended up offering Clover the space. Zachary M. Gingo, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ senior director of facilities operations, wrote in an email that Clover was chosen as “part of an overall effort to re-envision the space” in the Science Center lobby.

“Clover was chosen because its mission, menu, and style of operation meshed well with the programmatic goals of the project,” Gingo wrote.

Muir said the mission of Clover—to be local and sustainable—fit well with Harvard’s interests. He added that Clover looks forward to collaboration with food-oriented courses this fall, for example.

“I think it’s a wonderful, ideal spot for us to be in in terms of the kinds of things we’re interested in pushing forward and connecting with other people who have similar interests,” Muir said. “I’m really excited to have this platform to connect more directly with the student body at Harvard,” he added.=

—Staff writer Alison W. Steinbach can be reached at alison.steinbach@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @alisteinbach.

—Staff writer Katherine E. Wang can be reached at katie.wang@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiewang29.

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