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Monday, Feb 26, 2024

Middlebury Dining Services unveils changes to dining halls, on campus cafés

Dining halls have always been a critical part of students’ return to campus in the fall, especially when it comes to checking off their back to school hellos with old friends. But this year, there are substantial changes to the system, including shifts to hours and types of food at Ross, a switch between Crossroads and Wilson, and a new BiHall kiosk.

Ross Dining Hall is now open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily with continuous dining throughout those hours to alleviate some of the crowding and long lines during the lunch rush. The Ross menu has also changed, shifting from serving similar foods to Proctor and Atwater each meal toward now providing pub classics like pizza and burgers. 

Ross no longer offers hot breakfast options but will continue to serve continental breakfast daily. Atwater will continue to only serve lunch and dinner, making Proctor the only dining hall on campus with hot breakfast options.

These changes were announced in an Aug. 16 email from Dan Detora, executive director of Food Service Operations at Middlebury. The email cited student input and usage trends as the reasons for these updates — “We are making these changes in response to student input as well as usage trends and to optimize staffing resources,” Detora wrote. 

Abed Abbas ’24, the president of the Student Government Association (SGA) told The Campus that SGA was not contacted before the changes were made, but endorsed them as beneficial to both students and staff. “This is a good step to put less stress on the understaffed dining team,” Abbas said. “I believe the decision to stop serving hot breakfast is data-based and the way that Ross operates adds to the diversity of the food offered around campus. 

Kos Khepra ’26 agreed that the new system in Ross was a beneficial change to the dining halls. 

“I think the Ross changes are really great, like adding a sandwich bar, and the later hours. I also think they took hot breakfast away in order to give us hot food all day, which I do love,” Khepra said.

However, some students remain concerned about the health of such pub food served by Ross, a problem Abbas said SGA is working to address.

“Healthier items should be added to the menu to accommodate all needs.” Abbas said. “[SGA] will closely observe and gather student feedback during the first two weeks so we have the input we need before making decisions.”

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Conversations around the possibility of a BiHall kiosk started last spring, according to Detora. In order to make the kiosk a reality, dining services moved Wilson Café closer to the Grille and MiddExpress to change it from a two person operation to one, putting the other employee at the new station in BiHall, Detora said.

In the Aug. 16 email to students, Detora emphasized that the changes made were also in response to student feedback requesting extended hours for Crossroads to accommodate those studying late in Davis Family Library and other areas of campus.

“We always welcome student feedback,” Detora said. “This was not just a decision by Dining Services. The Crossroads students were very much involved and agreed to the change. In turn, we will now be opening a new operation in BiHall.” 

Tess Hegarty ’25.5, a barista at Crossroads, said she believes that because Crossroads is student run, it should be in the student center. 

“From what I’ve been told, switching Crossroads and Wilson was the only way to keep both operating, and I think students will probably be overall happier to keep both of those spaces,” Hegarty said. “I think everyone was confused at first because Wilson has a quieter studying vibe being in Davis and feels a little dead in comparison to McCullough, which is livelier.”

Abbas stated he believes the Wilson–Crossroads switch was inconsiderate of the student experience and identity. “A student-run business belongs in the student center,” Abbas said. “Crossroads and their amazing staff make the experience enjoyable and attract many students to the space.” 

Abbas described the two cafés as opposites of one another — he said Crossroads is a more casual space because of its location and dim lighting, while Wilson is more bright and quiet, due to its location in Davis. “The work culture that Crossroads has resonates with students who want to hang out or do work in a more casual setting, and I believe that this culture is indispensable and most likely irreplaceable,” Abbas added. 

At the same time, Hegarty said she sees a new opportunity in the change. “I’m honestly excited to be a part of developing our new location and decorating it from scratch in a way that feels reflective of the vibe we want Crossroads to have. We’re also planning on having outdoor seating I believe, and I hope that means we’ll get to see more people down on that quad on campus.”

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Details have not yet been decided on exactly how this change will look but hours are expected to remain the same for the two cafés. It is also unclear how this may affect menu items or equipment provided. 

However, students are always welcome to provide feedback to dining services as well as the SGA to give input on how to make both the spaces comfortable, and where students will actually want to go. 

“The SGA is willing to support the Crossroads staff in whatever they believe is better for their team and the student body.” Abbas said. “We are willing to advocate for the satisfaction of our constituents.”


Mandy Berghela

Mandy Berghela '26 (she/her) is a Local Editor. 

She previously served as the SGA Correspondent and contributing writer for the Campus. She plans to major in Political Science, with a minor in Arabic. Along with the paper, Mandy serves on the Judicial Board, social media manager for the Southeast Asian Society (SEAS), and is also involved in many campus theatre productions. On her free time, she enjoys long walks, cycling, and reading fantasy novels. 


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