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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Students served sumptuous meals daily at URI Choice, fine food and service hallmarks of URI Dining Services

KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 17, 2000 -- It's lunchtime and the aroma of baking Belgian waffles wafts through Butterfield Dining Hall at the University of Rhode Island. Nearby, a wooden cart bursts with fresh fruit-oranges, bananas and apples.

A few feet away agile hands prepare vegetable stir-fry dishes, one with tofu, and one without, all cooked to order. At the same station, succulent pasta dishes await hungry students.

A deli features 17 breads, nine meats, five cheeses and 16 different condiments. A potato bar offers broccoli and steaming melted cheddar cheese. Other stations offer pizza and such home-style foods as chicken pot pie and baked fish.

Students don't have to load their trays. They get seconds and thirds if they have the stomach capacity.

This is URI Dining Services at the turn of the century. Students can eat breakfast any time of the day, fresh fruit and vegetables at any meal, and enjoy hot, cooked-to-order foods at a number of specialty stations.

For Kathleen Gianquitti, administrator of URI Dining Services for 14 years, being able to satisfy individual needs and tastes while preparing 1.4 million meals a year on a budget of $11 million, is a daily and enjoyable challenge. In the current year, there are 4,545 resident and commuter students with meal plans.

The choice of foods, recently completed interior improvements and the constant drive to innovate comes at no cost to the Rhode Island taxpayer since Dining Services is entirely self-supporting. In fact, the cook-to-order operation at Butterfield has resulted in a 1.6 percent drop in food expenditures from 1998 to 1999.

All of this is in stark contrast to the URI student dining experience of 15 to 20 years ago-waiting in lines for limited choices in drab cafeteria environments that did little to control waste.

Dining choices also vary widely among the other four Dining Services facilities: Roger Williams and Hope Dining Halls, the Ram's Den and the America's Cup Room. Dining Services also runs Ram Escape, a pastry and coffee shop in the Memorial Union and the Daily Grind, a coffee cart in the library. Each has its own decor as well. Dining Services also caters major events on campus.

"You have a lot of choices," said Jessica Rodas, a freshman from Providence, while recently eating with her friends in Butterfield. "I like the pizza at Butterfield, and I like the clam chowder in the Ram's Den," she said.

Bill Backus, a sophomore from Saratoga Springs, N.Y. agreed that the variety is very good. "I can get a New York-style sub here," he added.

His friend Dan Glebus, a freshman from Walpole, Mass., said Butterfield dining "is great on weekends because you can wake up at noon and still get breakfast."

Gianquitti, who holds her bachelor's and master's degrees from URI and is a registered and licensed dietitian, and her staff work hard for those types of reviews.

Each station has a name that plays off sports, such as "Fowl Line Grill," "Double Play Pasta" and "Field Gold Salads." URI banners now decorate the interior.

"Butterfield is my favorite," said Sandi Shein, a sophomore from Staten Island, N.Y. and new member of Sigma Kappa sorority. "I could sit here forever it's so relaxing." Because she likes the food so much, Shein will be buying a URI meal plan next year even though she'll live in the sorority.

Her friend, Kacey Brides, a freshman from Raynham, Mass., said the staff is very personable. "It's not just that they are doing their jobs. They ask how we are doing on our tests."

"If you are tired, they ask if you are studying too much," Shein added with a smile.

"We try to run this like a food court," Gianquitti said. "These kids grew up in restaurants, and that's our competition."

"Choice gives students a chance to experience different foods," Gianquitti said. "We also do candlelight dinners during which the students are treated to such delicacies as salmon, shrimp, or tenderloin steak."

Gianquitti said almost every new twist or improvement is the result of brainstorming. "At Butterfield, it was an evolving thing," she said. "We've been changing the menu over a 10-year period. We've been doing a three-year renovation project scheduled to be completed this spring to improve the interior, add air conditioning and even add television sets that show news and videos."

All recipes are computerized to control cost, and the all ingredients in a recipe can be easily identified for those with food allergies and health concerns.

The following is a list of some of the items consumed by URI Dining Services customers last year:

Weight/quantity Item

 

46,685 pounds turkey

22,110 pounds American cheese

19,546 pounds ketchup

18,853 pounds spaghetti sauce

21,940 pounds popcorn chicken

101, 538 pounds French fries

8,150 pounds rice

80,201 hamburger patties

38,140 pounds pasta

19,570 pounds cereal

15,112 pounds tuna fish

120,000 bagels

1.027 million servings of Pepsi

There are 368 hours of service per week at three dining halls, a food court, table service restaurant and two cafes. Dining Services served 1.43 million meals last year.

In the current year, there are 4,545 resident and commuter students with meal plans.

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For Further Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116



 

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