Campus dining updates: what you need to know for spring 2021

Dining options stay adjusted to decreased student population

Aleena Hassan
Mercury Staff

With fewer students living on campus than in a typical year, dining options have shifted.

Approximately 5,000 students lived in on-campus housing last spring, said Director of Housing Operations and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Matthew Grief. A year later – said Assistant Vice President for Residential Life Ryan White – this number nearly halved to roughly 2,700, a 100 person increase from fall 2020.

In a survey conducted by Envision Strategies, 29% of universities said they were considering changes to meal plans last semester due to the pandemic and a decreased on-campus student population. UTD approached COVID-era dining by exchanging the traditional dine-in option for social distancing and takeout.

Dining Hall West, Taco Bell and Northside options like the American Tap Room opened on Jan. 11 for students moving into on-campus housing before the semester started. Meal money became available for meal plan holders on the same date. Regular dining hours commenced on Jan. 19, the official start of the semester.

Operations such as contactless delivery with Boost mobile ordering, robot delivery via the Starship Deliveries app and the Swipe It Forward food insecurity program are continuing as normal. Swipe It Forward allows students with meal plans to donate up to two unused guest passes or unused swipes to a meal bank coordinated by the Dean of Students Office.

Panda Express, Papa John’s, The Market at DHW and The Pub are the other on-campus eateries set to remain open this spring. The Pub launched an eight-item “Top Secret Menu” this semester, featuring new sandwiches and breakfast items, as well as a Soup of the Day.

Pam Stanley is the director of food and retail services and has overseen the changes taking place this semester, including the new menu.

“The Pub menu was carefully comprised this semester with our version of some of the favorite items from locations that are temporarily closed,” Stanley said in an email to The Mercury. “We are very excited to have expanded the menu at The Pub to offer quality coffee, breakfast tacos, pastries and other favorites.”