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New dining center will showcase food prep

By Joe Atmonavage

Come fall 2016, K-State students will have a new place to eat. When Wefald Hall, a 129,000-square-foot residence hall with 540 beds, opens in 2016, a new Kramer Dining Center will accompany it.

K-State Dining Services has pushed to adopt many of the 24 principles outlined in Menus of Change, an initiative by The Culinary Institute of America with Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health to promote healthy and sustainable food choices.

“We are going to be able to take those 24 principles and pick the ones that make sense for Kansans and be able to have a facility which we can support the concept in a way students are going to embrace,” said Mary Molt, associate director of dining services.

One way dining services will do that is cooking everything in front of students. The other dining centers are limited in terms of food preparation, Molt said.

“It’s going to be a state-of-the-art dining center where we are going to have opportunities for students to see their food being cooked on platforms right in front of them,” Molt said.

The 60,000-square-foot dining center will have a grill and pizza area including a wood pizza oven. This area will stay open after hours, and students can buy selected items. The after-hours option is not a part of the meal plan.

Kramer Dining Center also will have a saladbar, sushi, stir-fry line, Chipotle-like Mexican food assembly line, vegetable grill and a “classics” area that serves meats and potatoes.

The new dining center will continue to be all-you-can-eat like the other dining halls, but a major change will be that students won’t have the option to grab a tray to stack plates of foods on.

Molt said this is not to limit student’s food intake to remain healthy, but mostly to prevent the wasting of food.

At a Culinary Institute of America conference this past year, Molt learned that 40 percent of the food grown nationwide is wasted. One of the principles of Menus of Change is to help combat that.

Molt, who is a registered dietician and has worked in dining services at the university since 1973, said all dining halls on campus will be going trayless during the fall semester of 2016. She hopes this helps students be more cautious about the amount of food they are taking.

“It is not just going trayless so people won’t take it,” she said. “It is the education piece.”

Educating students on food preparation and eating healthy will be a theme in the new dining hall. It will include a teaching facility, and dining services will bring in chefs and hospitality and dietetics students to inform students about things like preparing vegetables, cooking meat and baking cookies, Molt said.

“We are really trying to engage them in the food and cooking,” Molt said.

The new dining hall also will allow students to access the dining centers more often. A new meal plan will permit students to enter and leave the dining hall as many times as they want during normal hours. Molt said it should be beneficial for students.

“Our hope is that students won’t think they have to load up and eat and take too much,” she said. “If you want to eat a sandwich and come back in a couple hours to eat another one, they can do so.”

The old meal plans, which allowed students a swipe for breakfast, lunch and dinner, will still be available, Molt said.

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