Temple, Aramark continue to implement on-campus dining improvements

Since the closing of Morgan Dining Hall, Aramark and the university continue upgrades to its dining services.

Temple and Aramark continue to brainstorm on-campus dining improvements following last year's closure of Morgan Dining Hall. | WALI JONES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Almost a year after Temple’s decision to permanently close Morgan Dining Hall, the on-campus dining experience for students has been continuously changing each semester. 

Temple and Aramark, the university’s catering service, continue to brainstorm ways to upgrade the on-campus dining experience. Meal equivalency will change from $9.75 to $10.50 per swipe, and a new policy for guest swipes will be introduced, The Temple News reported.

Temple has no plans to expand  from its current one dining hall and two food court format, said Jonathan Reiter, vice president of business affairs and administration. Esposito Dining Center in Johnson and Hardwick Halls will continue to serve as the only dining hall. 

“I think the Aramark team, although [eliminating Morgan Food Court] was a tough decision to make, and it certainly did impact students, they did their best to accommodate student complaints,” Reiter said.

All retail locations will be opening up again this upcoming semester, with one restaurant in the Student Center Food Court being replaced with a different concept, Reiter said. The new restaurant option has not yet been revealed.

The interior updates in the university’s summer renovations of Esposito Dining Center include new flooring, removing booths to allow in more natural light, new tables and chairs and increased capacity. 

Aramark has made efforts to supplement the variety lost when Morgan closed, like opening an all-day pasta bar and an extended dessert and beverage bars to students after winter break.

The biggest additions this upcoming semester aside from renovations are increased meal equivalency value, introduction of guest passes and a limit of two swipes per transaction. 

Before the increase, a base Chick-Fil-A sandwich meal cost one swipe — adding extra toppings would require another swipe. Now, this meal would equal a single swipe. A Panda Express plate of two entrees and one side would also previously fall under two swipes, but it will now count as only one swipe.

Ren Anita believes the increase in meal equivalences could end a lot of problems when it comes to being able to have a full meal with one swipe from the food courts.

“I had a 12 swipe meal plan so, [in] certain restaurants I have to spend at least two swipes to get enough food not to be hungry,” said Antia, a junior psychology major.

Last semester, the decision to no longer swipe in guests with unlimited plans came as a hardship for many students on campus, including Antia. 

“The return of the guest swipes I do think is positive, I think they should’ve definitely done more to bring it back. I definitely suffered too because then I couldn’t even go to J&H anymore,” Antia said. “I’d have to delay my eating time, like if I wake up at eight. I can’t eat until 12 or 1 just to make sure I’m not spending too many swipes. If I ate normally, I would run out by Thursday.” 

Students are also concerned about the nutritional content of meals and the distance between Esposito Dining Center and residence halls on the opposite side of campus, like Morgan Hall, 1300 Residential Hall or Temple Towers. First-year students are required by the University Housing and Residential Life department to hold a meal plan while living in university housing. 

As the single dining hall on campus continues to be updated, students still voice their concerns about accessibility and clean foods in their diets. 

“Especially in the colder months, it sucks walking to Johnson and Hardwick so my dining experience was mostly what was in the building or if I felt like leaving the building then I would go to the Student Center,” said Adam Dentith, a senior global studies student. “I know me and everybody else I know, we don’t really have cash to be spending on the food trucks every day.”

A Fall 2021 American College Health Association report found that 59% of college students eat less than one cup of vegetables per day.

“The only fruit I was able to get was the Chick-Fil-A fruit bowls but that itself was a swipe,” Antia said. “So it’s like, do I risk maybe not eating dinner one time just to eat fruit for the first time in two weeks?”

Aramark’s marketing team will also install a document at every retailer to show students what they can get at that specific location with either one or two meal swipes, Reiter said. The goal is to better assist students with staying within their two swipe per transaction limit.

“[Less dining halls] can be tough to see, but it’s designed to elevate the experience for the students,” Reiter said. “This summer they did a total refresh of Johnson and Hardwick. They did a really good job of just creating a better atmosphere overall in Johnson and Hardwick.”

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