Connecticut Hall cafeteria revamped

Tamonda GriffithsNews Writer

While students can still get their mac and cheese and chicken tenders in Connecticut Hall, there are several healthy options for them to choose from as well, said Chartwells Food Services resident district manager Jeff Kwolek.

“I was a chef by trade, so for me, the main focus is food quality,” he said. Kwolek came to the university in August 2018 and said he had heard from students about the bad reputation associated with the food in Conn. Hall.

The healthy ideas and initiatives, Kwolek said, come from Chartwells corporate menu planning software called Webtrition.

“They work with, it’s called Menu Directions,” said Kwolek. “It’s a group of chefs and professionals that work the Hartford Public Health and CIA [Culinary Institute of America].”

One healthy option available to students are hand-pressed burgers, Kwolek said.

“We hand form them, and then we cook ‘em – kinda on the same lines as a Five Guys or Smash Burger,” said Kwolek, “so they’re fresh they’re not a frozen product, so they stay juicy and they have a lot more flavor.”

According to Kwolek, the beef used is 80/20 ground beef meaning 80 percent meat and 20 percent fat content.

Chartwells has also added a corporate program known as F.U.E.L. [Fueling Your Unique Lifestyle].

“It’s designed around not just athletes, but for anyone,” said Kwolek.

The overall program is based on healthy eating, he said, and it offers students options such as ancient grains, poached fish, and pickled vegetables. The program is an addition to the salad bar.

The F.U.E.L. program was implemented this year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Doors have also been installed outside the G8 station and a swipe-pad must be used for students to access it.

The ‘G,’ he said, stands for gluten-free and the ‘8’ refers to the eight major food allergens.

“What people were doing is, people who weren’t gluten-free, and that’s the thing it’s open to all students,” said Aidan Coleman, SGA co-chair of food services advisory committee, “but people who weren’t gluten-free were coming in and saying ‘Oooh I like this stuff’ and emptying it into a bookbag.”

Coleman said, with the station being locked, students now have to find a manager to unlock the area and grant them access from that point on into the station.

Before the door and swipe-pad were installed, Kwolek said the station would be filled on a Friday afternoon and by Monday morning it would be “totally wiped out.”

Eventually, security cameras will need to be installed.

“Not that we’re looking to be big brother,” said Kwolek, “but there’s an issue, we can look back and check the keypad and see who was in there last.”

Kwolek said the student would not get in trouble but would be asked to be considerate of their fellow students who may really need that specified food.

There are also gluten-free options available to students on the lunch line.

Conn. Hall also continues to partner with St. Ann’s church and soup kitchen, said SGA Representativeat-Large and Vice President for the Board of Academic Experience, Brooke Mercaldi.

According to Mercaldi, Connecticut Hall is a “zerowaste facility.”

“The food that’s untouched is donated,” said Mercaldi. “The food that is touched is, is like [recycled] into compost.”

According to the Food Recovery Network’s website, which is a group of students on college campuses fighting against food waste, between 2016 and 2017 over 10,000 pounds of food was donated.

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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