By SHANNON O. WELLS
While some corners of the Pitt campus have been relatively quiet this summer, the same can’t be said for the extensive team involved in providing nourishment options in more than 50 settings for students, faculty and staff members.
The dining and food service entity collectively known as Pitt Eats has spent much of the summer planning and updating menus, ordering food and accessories, and implementing — or improving upon — approaches to serving thousands a day in a way that incorporates quality, efficiency, sustainability and affordability.
“We are excited to welcome Pitt community members to campus for the fall semester,” said Julie Bannister, assistant vice chancellor for auxiliary services, which includes Pitt Eats. “From signature pierogis at The Pierogi to gourmet grilled cheese at Melt Lab, our dedicated Pitt Eats team is ready to serve you with delicious new dining options this year. Importantly, sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do, including local food sourcing, composting and a variety of healthy plant-forward choices.”
Bannister and other members of the Pitt Eats team took time to answer the University Times’ questions about what’s happening this fall, including innovations in menu selections, such as expanded plant-based options; beverage selection; payment options and reusable and compostable products.
University Times: What items and services are new this fall?
Pitt Eats: Pitt Eats is excited to welcome first-year and returning students to campus with new dining and menu options this semester, including:
The Pierogi is now in the Market at the Towers, which offers delicious twists on the classic Pittsburgh staple, including an award-winning recipe from Mrs. T’s Pierogies: The Nacho-Rogi, created by The Eatery sous chef Jacob Kmetz.
The Kosher Plate, also on the ground floor of Towers, has an enhanced menu featuring a fresh bagel and deli bar to customize your favorite sandwich.
The Hub at Posvar Plaza is back as an outdoor dining option and will feature Paper Lantern, which offers made-to-order pad Thai and fried rice, and Melt Lab, with gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
Chick-Fil-A is now available on the Pitt Eats mobile ordering platform, Transact Mobile.
- The SodaStream program is now available on campus, providing a new twist to hydration. (see below for more information)
Click here for market and dining locations and hours.
What is the Pitt CA$H program and how will it work?
The new Pitt CA$H program replaces the prior Lunch Money program and is now available exclusively for Pitt faculty and staff who can use their Pitt ID to purchase meals, coffee and other items at more than 30 campus locations. Program benefits include:
Ease and convenience: Automatic payroll deductions make dining payments hassle-free at convenient locations across campus.
Menu variety: Pitt CA$H can be used for a wide range of options, from meals and snacking to coffee on the go.
Flexibility: Choose one of four plans that fits your dining needs and budget. Participation can be started or stopped at any time.
Savings: Those using Pitt CA$H will save 10 percent at The Roost and Pom & Honey in the Cathedral Café; as well as Create, True Burger, and PA Taco in William Pitt Union’s Schenley Café. All purchases are exempt from sales tax.
- No expiration: Pitt CA$H does not expire. Funds can carry over by semester and year for current faculty and staff members.
Is the approach to choosing and developing campus menu and dining options based on regular feedback from students, faculty and staff?
Pitt Eats is committed to providing memorable dining experiences that bring people together, creating relationships and a feeling of community. Through this, we focus on the overall dining experience by emphasizing high-quality food, innovative offerings and great service.
We are committed to providing balanced, nutritious food options that fit every diet. We regularly gather student, faculty and staff feedback through various outlets including focus groups, surveys, social media and feedback forms. Feedback is shared with the dining team to help us develop new concepts and further enhance the campus dining experience for all community members. To share input, visit the Pitt Eats website.
How would you describe the SodaStream offering? What are its advantages and benefits?
The SodaStream program is a new, personalized twist to hydration that lets you choose from still or sparking water in a variety of flavors. With a membership ($80 per semester for current meal membership holders or $20 a month for others), Pitt community members can create personalized taste settings using their desired flavor intensity, carbonation level and water temperature. When a user links their account, they will receive an experience unique to them, which includes metrics on how many plastic bottles they have saved by using the program, their favorite flavors and even how hydrated they are for the day, based on use. Units are available in three campus locations: the lobby in Tower C, the University Store on Fifth, and Baierl Rec Center, with additional units planned in the coming months.
How have plant-forward choices around campus increased in recent years? Does this reflect a sea change in student diet preferences?
Pitt Eats’ survey data and general data studies show that, nationwide, Gen Z has a strong interest in plant-based choices. This generation tends to be more conscious of global and sustainability issues, and many are interested in a plant-forward diet. In addition, we are committed to the Pitt Sustainability Plan goal to serve meals that put plants at the center of the plate, decreasing the number of animal-derived products sold by 25 percent by 2025.
Are reusable to-go containers now available at all campus dining facilities?
The University’s Choose To Reuse program offers the option for patrons to take their meals to-go in reusable containers, which can be returned at their convenience. When returning a container, the user will receive a token to redeem a new one, creating an efficient and circular system. Each meal membership holder is given access to the program.
Choose-To-Reuse is also offered at coffee shops, letting guests use their own cups to receive a discount on select beverages.
How is Pitt Eats incorporating compostable materials. How are they collected and processed?
The University uses compostable dining materials across campus and continuously strives to meet new benchmarks in sustainability each year. Results from our most recent recorded data show that 60 percent of disposable materials used in our campus resident dining halls are compostable and in some locations this figure reaches up to 68 percent. Compost is collected each week and processed through partners Pittsburgh Garden and Agrecycle.
Shannon O. Wells is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at email@example.com.
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