Café Mac Fourth Meal an unexpected success

By Sarah Dillard

On September 27, 428 students crowded into Café Mac between 9 and 11 p.m. for the dining hall’s first late-night dinner option available on the meal plan. Since student attendance has been low across the board this semester this was a surprise for the Bon Apetit team, who had planned for 150 students to show. Doug Rosenberg, Director of Budget and Institutional Services, was inspired by the many after-hours offerings he saw at larger universities that allow students to use their meal plans and eliminate skipped meals. For many students, evening classes, sports and activities make it difficult to attend scheduled meal times in Café Mac for at least one day of the week. Josh Olson, Café Mac’s new Bon Appétit manager, says that Fourth Meal is also about providing another space for students to enjoy themselves. “We want Fourth Meal to be a fun social event for students,” said Olson. “We don’t want students to just sit, eat and leave.” Residential Life, Campus Life and Bon Appétit planned the event, expecting about 150 people to arrive. Since the total student attendance was more than twice that number, Fourth Meal will become an option twice every semester (plus the annual Midnight Breakfast in December). After seeing such a large turnout for the first Fourth Meal, Rosenberg says changes are in the works. “Next time we will have more staff, extra lines open and the dishwasher running so we won’t have to use disposables,” he said. Students were able to use their meal plans, pay $6.25 in cash or use $5.11 in aux points for the meal. The Grille offered usual Café Mac breakfast foods, along with beverages and cereal. Fernanda Canessa ’15 enjoyed Fourth Meal, but said that improvements could make it a stronger option for students. “I think it’s a move in the right direction,” Canessa said. “But they had breakfast foods and it kind of sucks that you have to use your meal plan.” For other students, using the meal plan could help to recoup money from missed meals throughout the week. Anna Singer ’16 says she hopes there are many more Fourth Meal options in the future. As a first-year student required to purchase a full meal plan (19 m9 eals a week), Singer often has leftover meals at the end of the week. “Since I only use, like, percent of my meals, it’s a really nice option,” Singer said. “It would be great if they could have it like once a week.” Ross Peterson ’15 was unable to attend the first dinner but plans to attend future events the next time they are offered. “I don’t eat breakfast all the time, so being able to use that money when I’m hungry at night is a great idea,” Peterson said. “Popcorn in the lounge is great, but it would be awesome if Café Mac could have something every night.” There are plans for live DJs and karaoke offerings for future Fourth Meals. Additional late-night Café Mac events include Bon Appétit’s 25th birthday celebration on Oct. 18 and a pumpkin painting event planned for Oct. 23. Rosenberg and Olson hope to keep Fourth Meal popular by publicizing it more in the future. The first time around, Bon Appétit posted fliers in Café Mac and an advertisement ran in the Daily Piper. For the Nov. 1 meal, students will likely receive an email reminder the afternoon before the meal. Student enthusiasm suggests that there will be a next time. Taylor Keppler ’16 attended Fourth Meal with people on her dorm floor. “It’s pretty much the best idea ever,” Keppler said. “I’m going to go again.” refresh –>