Expect to see plenty of changes to the meals program this fall at Northeastern’s campuses in Boston and Oakland, California.
Students on the meals program in Boston will have an increased array of options with the return of takeout meals at two dining halls and the expansion of the food locker service that allows them to pre-order food from multiple on-campus restaurants.
“We saw an opportunity to increase the flexibility offered to students,” says Chris Abayasinghe, who is associate vice president for business services and oversees the dining services program at Northeastern.
“Students are busy with their class schedules and extracurriculars,” he says. The expanded services are designed to fit their needs and enhance the dining experience.
In Oakland, the main dining center got an overhaul and is reopening this fall after being closed for several years, Abayasinghe says.
The return of takeout
Due to popular demand, takeout programs at the Eatery at Stetson East and United Table at International Village are restarting in time for the fall semester in Boston.
Takeout service started during the COVID-19 pandemic but was sidelined as campus life returned to a normal routine.
Abayasinghe says Northeastern is reinstating takeout because of the growing trend nationwide for college students to dine on their own schedule.
The way it works, students on meal plans will go to the Eatery or United Table and request a reusable, to-go OZZI container at the cashier station, Abayasinghe says.
The students will then go through the service line and add their selections to the container before exiting with their takeout meal, he says.
Once they are done with the meal, on their next visit, students will return the OZZI container and swap it for a new sanitized one, Abayasinghe says.
The takeout service operates during regular dining hours, which are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday; and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday through Sunday at International Village, Abaysinghe says.
Dining hours at Stetson East are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday.
Pre-ordering restaurant meals via food locker
Northeastern is expanding the food locker program that debuted last year to include meals from more restaurants located on campus.
The food locker service allows students to order food in advance instead of waiting in line. When their orders are ready, they pick them up at secure, self-service kiosks located strategically around campus, Abayasinghe says.
Last year the service used food prepared in a ghost kitchen in the basement of Speare Hall that was operated by a food management company, he says.
This fall the food lockers will be served by retail kitchens on campus, including Popeye’s, to give students more variety, Abayasinghe says.
“It permits the students to choose when and where they will dine and pick up from,” he says.
Students order using the Boost app and pay with methods including dining dollars and meal exchanges as well as debit and credit cards, Abayasinghe says.
They will be given a unique identifier to pick up their food, he says. “It will only open the door for you.”
Abayasinghe says food locker hours will mirror restaurant hours.
Meal exchanges and Husky dollars
Meal exchanges allow students to redeem their meal plans at Outtakes at Stetson West, Churchill’s Creations and participating retail locations.
Last semester’s expansion of night-time dining hours will continue this academic year, Abayasinghe says.
A program that allows students to use Husky Dollars to pay for food at participating area restaurants will continue as well, with new vendors being added to the program, Abayasinghe says.
Northeastern in Oakland
The Oakland campus offers students three food service options, including a campus convenience store, indoor and outdoor seating at the Tea Shop and cafeteria-style service at Founders Commons, which Abayasinghe says is reopening after being closed for a few years.
“We’ve been able to reopen and reactivate that part of the campus experience,” he says.
A global selection
Abayasinghe says Northeastern continues to emphasize global food selections in its dining program, particularly at International Village.
“Think about new, healthy Mediterranean-influenced cuisine, and think of foods which have a number of plant-based elements,” he says. “Really, really fun global cuisine. Come and taste the flavors of the world.”
Abayasinghe says details of the meals program are scheduled to be updated for the fall semester by Aug. 22 on nudining.com.