AMHERST, Mass (WGGB) — Ask any college grad and they’ll tell you, dining common food isn’t anything to write home about, but that’s all changing at one local school.
For the second year in a row, UMass Amherst was ranked 3rd nationally for the quality of its food by the Princeton Review.
Just a week ago, the school unveiled a new and improved Hampshire Dining Common in the Southwest dorms, and this is not your parent’s DC or even yours, for that matter.
This is the future of college food prep.
“This is real food,” explained Garett DiStefano, UMass Director of Residential Dining. “This comes from the garden to the plate in a day. We can have my managers pick up the phone and call the farmers and say ‘I need 50 pounds of carrots at 9 in the morning. By 3 p.m., they’re on the back dock and by 5, they’re on a plate.”
Gone are burger and dogs. In their place – international cuisine including Mexican, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese.
There’s gluten-free and vegan and even an olive bar,
All featuring fresh and locally sourced ingredients.
“This is not the dining common of old. The chicken puck era is over. I mean there’s definitely no chicken puck here,” said Joe Flueckiger, UMass Dining Manager.
And there’s no soda, either.
The focus is on health – going through up to 30 cases of fresh fruit a day, with food prepped by hand and made to order.
“It’s demanding but its challenge that we love to execute every day and the end result is happy customers and that’s our goal,” said Anthony Jung, UMass Executive Chef.
“It’s really good. I like that the tomatoes and the cucumbers were grown like 2 miles from here or 4 miles. I really like the local produce. It’s awesome,” said UMass sophomore Elizabeth Jarvis.
“It’s one of my favorite part of being a student here,” agreed UMass senior Alan Will. “Great food. It’s always fresh always prepared. I like it.”
It’s just one more step in making sure the dining commons at UMass are anything but common.
UMass will eventually update and transition all its dining commons to match the Hampshire DC model.