This academic year has been a significant one for Bon Appétit workers at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM). In November, the staff earned a Regional Account award for excellence from Bon Appétit. Continuing to show their dedication to the school, it was announced in February that dining expansions are being made on campus.
General manager David Sansotta received one of five Regional Account of the Year awards for meeting SMCM’s excellence standards. Sansotta was fortunate enough to attend the annual Be-a-Star gala in Florida where 100 Bon Appétit employees from the U.S. and Canada were honored for excellence. Now, as the spring semester is in full force, announcements have been made about multiple expansions to the dining services at SMCM.
Bon Appétit is a national food service company that focuses on sustainability, healthful choices, freshness and ethically conscious production. When asked why the services at SMCM won one of the two regional awards, Sansotta said, “our freshness, quality of food, sustainability.” However, it’s not as clear-cut as it sounds. Bon Appétit requires their services to purchase a minimum of 20 percent of their food from local sources. Local vendors, by definition, can be within a 150-mile radius from the school.
This does make the food healthier than other schools because produce loses nutrients each day it is off the vine, and there’s less emission from trucks transporting food. Sansotta is proud that Bon Appétit at SMCM doesn’t use frozen foods. Some local partners, like Buckler’s Produce Farm and Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company, deliver to campus every week. Every meal is prepared the day before and cooked during the time it will be served.
Sansotta and the rest of the Bon Appétit staff work carefully to ensure that they are doing their part of being environmentally conscious. “We work with Monterey Bay [Aquarium] in California for the fish, what we should and shouldn’t buy. We work with local farms throughout the county,” he says. Monterey Bay has a seafood watch program that works with consumers and companies to make healthy choices for the consumers and the ocean. Sansotta talks proudly of their partnership with Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company., which works with the local watershed. The school gives to St. Mary’s Caring three days a week. A food truck picks up food prepared by the staff twice a week, and St. Mary’s students deliver once a week.
After winter break ended, the Great Room staff announced the extension of dinner hours, which are from 5-8:30 p.m. every evening including weekends. Both Sansotta and Director of Residence Life Derek Young said they wanted to extend the hours to give students the opportunity to eat dinner after 6-7:50 p.m. classes during the week. The staff was more excited to share that this would not be the only change coming to the dining services this semester.
A few weeks ago, Young announced some possible dining service changes coming to the school at the Student Government Association meeting. The Point News sat down with Vice President for Business and Finance Chip Jackson, and Derek Young last week to get the scoop on the new dining change. Some of the improvements are coming before the end of the year, but some may not appear for another few years.
The soonest change: The Pub will be installing a brick pizza oven. The new pizza oven will be installed over spring break and comes with the extension of The Pub’s hours from 5 p.m. to midnight every night. The installation will “obviously come with the addition of pizza to The Pub menu,” according to Jackson. Nothing has been announced about whether The Pub will reopen on Sundays.
By the end of the year, we may see another change to the campus. Young and Jackson announced the addition of a north campus coffee shop that will be temporarily placed in the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center until the new academic building opens in a few years. Young said, “[a] lot more traffic there, option for coffee and pastry shop for students and staff,” regarding the need for a north campus location. Aside from the Grab-n-Go at The Pub, food options are all in the same place; at the campus center.
Young and Jackson have discussed other possibilities, such as food trucks and a change in the Breakfast Nook in the Great Room in the future. The Breakfast Nook may, within a few years, be a standalone dining place, separate from the Great Room. They are hoping to redo the space and bring a new, different menu that is unique to the campus. Jackson and Young both know the atmosphere of the Breakfast Nook is a special place for some students, who prefer the space compared to the Great Room. For some, the Nook provides a quiet, safe space to eat and study.
If you care about the Breakfast Nook or want to be involved in what’s changing at SMCM, Derek Young sent a survey to students on February 28 regarding the potential changes of the dining services.