By Mallika Mitra, Features Editor
After nearly two years of work from students and administration, the new dining service is finally here. Over the summer Creative Dining Services began working to “get connected and get systems in place,” according to James Chantanasombut, the Director and Executive Chef of Kalamazoo College Dining Services.
“The biggest challenge is the amount of folks to feed,” said Chantanasombut. Although it is not possible for all students to eat in the cafeteria at the same time, dining services has been working to make sure everyone can eat comfortably. This starts with improved dining and house services, which include cleaning tables quickly, a boxed lunch program, the development of the new combo plan at the Richardson Room so students can use meal swipes for most of the day, providing meals at the Book Club, and the extra card reader outside of the dining hall so that students can be swiped in quickly.
According to Chantanasombut, “The first year is really all about just soaking it all in and really learning how everything works.”
However, the new dining service has many plans for the future, including developing a more authentic cuisine, continuing to build relationships with local vendors, providing more options for people with dietary restrictions, and providing a generally well-rounded menu.
Another project the new dining service hopes to launch in regard to its sustainability initiatives is to work with Facilities Management on initiating another composting program.
Kalamazoo College Dining Services also wants to develop the talent of the staff, including more training for better cooking, less waste, sanitation, and safety. Several chefs have already been sent to Michigan State University to see how the dining services are run there, while another will be attending a 3-day boot camp, which Creative Dining runs every year for culinarians.
Tisha Armstrong, an employee of the dining service who often swipes students into the dining hall, says she has heard “no complaints” from her co-workers and that the new dining service is “wonderful” to the employees.
“There still aren’t a lot of options for people who are gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan,” said Aliera Morasch K’16.
Chantanasombut encourages students with concerns such as this to talk to him, saying, “You can stop by my office. My door is always open. If you see me in the cafeteria ever always feel free to ask me if you have any kind of questions or concerns.”