Fresh, New Choices Featured in Renovated Dining Hall
By Christine Neff
Salmon fillets cooked in a smoker. “Sizzling salads” topped with pan-seared beef or chicken. Pizza slices served hot from the oven.
It may sound more like fine dining than on-campus cuisine, but these menu items and more can now be found at East Carolina University’s newly renovated Todd Dining Hall, known as The Fresh Food Company.
“We’re very excited about these changes,” Joyce Sealey, food service director at ECU, said. “This new model completely changes the common perceptions about dining hall food.”
Extensive renovations have given the cafeteria on College Hill a lively, market-style atmosphere where food preparation takes center stage.
Seven show kitchens offer home-style meals, grilled sandwiches and entrees, a self-serve produce market, pizza and pasta, homemade desserts and a variety of beverages. Vegetarian fare is available at every meal, and healthy options are promoted throughout the facility.
“Universities around the country have embraced the Fresh Food Company concept that focuses on serving fresh, locally-grown foods and making preparation more visible to the customers,” Sealey said.
Todd Hall goes a step further by employing high-end cooking tools, such as a new pizza deck oven and a smokehouse that cooks up traditional eastern North Carolina favorites.
Other additions include high seating around the deli counter, television screens, multiple beverage stations, even a marble slab in the dessert station to mix toppings into ice cream.
One traditional cafeteria item has been taken out of all the dining halls on campus, including Todd. ECU’s Dining Services introduced trayless dining this semester as a way to curb food and water waste.
Diners no longer use trays to transport their food to the table, though some trays remain available to people with physical or medical challenges.
A pilot of the policy held last year at ECU showed that more than 2,000 gallons of water were being used weekly to wash cafeteria trays. The study found food waste per person was between .12 and .24 pounds higher on days when trays were available. When trays were not in use, total food waste was reduced by about 2,813 pounds over a two-day period.
Renovations at Todd Hall started in April 2008, and the facility opened to students for dinner on Sept. 3. The cost of the renovation was about $3 million, paid for by proceeds from student meal plans.
Renovations included the installation of a new HVAC system, a new dish washing machine and pulper that compresses food and paper waste.
ECU faculty and staff can dine at Todd Dining Hall for the following prices: breakfast, $4.85, lunch, $7.20 and dinner, $7.60 (plus sales tax). Pirate Bucks, cash, Visa and MasterCard are accepted.
Daily menus and nutritional information are available at www.ecu.edu/dining.