Oct. 22, 2019
CWU Dining Services expands options to offer more freshness, variety
CWU Dining Services has undergone a series of forward-looking changes over the past year, and the process won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
Since coming on board last fall, Director of Dining Services Dean Masuccio has been busy implementing his long-term vision for the department, hiring a campus executive chef (Joe Ritchie) and campus sous chef (Jack Mazzacavallo), establishing new nutrition standards, developing a sustainability focus, and opening a new dining hall.
That’s just a taste of what’s been going on.
“My vision is for CWU Dining Services to become a key campus partner in the healthy growth of our diverse community by bringing us together around food,” Masuccio said. “In addition, our vision includes elevating the existing program to a level of national recognition amongst our peers.”
One major development this fall is the introduction of Northside Commons, a 6,000-square-foot dining facility on the north end of campus that features a Panda Express restaurant and the 1891 Café and Market. Northside Commons also represents Dining Services’ transition toward using more sustainable packaging and utensils.
Most of the cartons, cups, plates, napkins, straws, and eating utensils at the facility are compostable and/or reusable, which contributes to the university’s overall goals for sustainability.
Dining Services also introduced many compostable items from World Centric — including their No Tree line of cups and cartons — for coffee beverages, soup, and Sambazon Acai Products.
Eventually, all of CWU’s dining facilities, including the Student Union & Recreation Center (SURC), will use either compostable or reusable plates, cups, and utensils.
“I’m committed to the sustainability efforts that we’ve just begun, and our plan for continued forward progress,” Masuccio said. “This includes identifying more locally sourced options and using the best ingredients and products possible, in addition to introducing more sustainable practices that will allow us to minimize waste.”
Staying with the sustainability theme, Dining Services has started incorporating fresh, local produce from The Wildcat Neighborhood Farm into locations across campus. The Farm, as it is more commonly known, is a sustainability center and outdoor classroom located on the north end of campus.
Next spring, The Farm will expand its supply of fresh vegetables to campus dining facilities, as well as the P.U.S.H. food pantry and other food insecurity organizations in the community.
“This year was a trial run for The Farm, and we were very encouraged with the results,” said Emilie Hobert, senior marketing and communications manager for CWU Auxiliary Enterprises. “Now, we’re figuring out how we can integrate more seasonal, high-quality foods into all of our dining facilities.”
Meanwhile, Dining Services is now working with more local businesses, such as Charlie’s Produce, to provide fresh, locally sourced foods for students and staff. An added benefit of working with local food suppliers is that it helps reduce the university’s carbon footprint, which aligns with the university’s broader sustainability goals.
“We understand that more people nowadays want to know exactly where their food comes from, and we want to give them a choice,” Hobert said.
Another way Dining Services has adjusted to the changing dietary needs of students and others in the community is by introducing a food-identifying icon system for items that are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan.
With a goal of becoming an official member of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative, the Dining Services leadership team has been working to provide more healthy food options, and communicate those benefits to consumers.
Hobert said all of the dining facilities and markets on campus are in the process of adopting the food identifiers, adding that all of the grab-and-go items available in the cafes and markets are made on campus.
“More people today are looking for healthier food alternatives, and offering a variety of fresh, grab-and-go items on campus is going to be essential,” she said.
Masuccio said he has been pleased to see Dining Services progress so much during his first year at CWU, and he intends to continue that momentum in the years to come.
“Since my arrival at CWU, I have wanted to positively contribute immediately,” he said. “It is very rewarding to see our campus recognize and appreciate the beginning phase of this journey that the CWU Dining Services team has just begun.”
Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1518, David.Leder@cwu.edu.