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Changes to the Commons and Meal Plans Will Enhance Student Dining

Posted 02/21/2014
Posted by Meagan Fazio

A rendering of the renovated Commons dining area.

Students will have a very different dining experience when they arrive on campus this fall. The Commons, the University’s main dining hall, will undergo major renovations over the summer and Dining Services is revamping its meal plans. Together, these changes will enhance the student dining experience with greater flexibility, better value, and more variety.

The Commons will become a more inviting space, from the entrance through the servery and into the seating area. Improvements include:

• Completely new finishes, seating and equipment, including a brick oven

• Seating will be increased by 20 percent in a modern, restaurant-style atmosphere. 

• Dishes will be prepared in front of students. 

• Extended hours to accommodate students’ busy schedules 

• A new allergen-free zone, complete with a private pantry for those guests with special dietary needs 

• An expanded bakery and kosher kitchen 

• New private dining room available to the community as needed 

 “Dining is an integral part of the overall campus experience,” said Arosha Jayawickrema, vice president of finance and administration. “Having a comfortable, fun space where you can hang out with friends over a great meal is instrumental to getting the most out of your time away from home.”

The lower level of the Commons, including the Hawk’s Nest, will close on March 17, when construction crews begin preparatory work. Exterior foundation work for a new window wall will begin in early April, weather permitting, and construction in the dining hall will begin on May 15. The renovations are scheduled for completion in mid-August. Dining Services is partnering with the University to fund the improvements.

There also will be significant changes to student meal plans. They are designed to provide better value and maximum flexibility for students. The new plans will include: 

• Freshman Exclusive 7-Day All-Access Plan with $100 in Dining Dollars per semester

• 5-Day All-Access Plan with $400 in Dining Dollars per semester

• 200 Block (200 meals and $500 in Dining Dollars per semester)

• 100 Block (100 meals and $1,000 in Dining Dollars per semester) 

All-Access Plans will allow students to enter the Commons dining hall as many times as they like, for a full meal or a simple snack. 

Block Plans will allow students 200 or 100 entries per semester. If students use up all of their blocks, they can pay with cash, Hawk Cash, or Dining Dollars. In addition, each plan holder will enjoy the benefit of five guest meals.

The new dining plans will provide many advantages for students, including:

• More options to visit the dining locations where students want to go

• Expanded hours 

• Options with increased Dining Dollars for those students who have on-campus kitchens

• Students on the 7-Day All-Access Plan will never run out of meals. 

• There will be no limit on the number meals or daily swipes for students on the All-Access Plans.

• The 5-day All-Access Plan can be used on any five days of the week, providing students with maximum flexibility.

• Meal equivalencies will go away with the exception of the Backstage Café.

• Kosher diners will no longer pay a premium to enjoy this special service, and kosher meals can be enjoyed by all students with meal plans. 

Informational meetings about the upcoming changes will be held in the weeks to come. Please watch UNotes and your University of Hartford email for details.