Changes in meal plan for freshmen, off-campus eateries

Changes to LaPenta’s dining hall include a cake station and additional displays with prepackaged snacks.

Heather Valenzano Staff Writer

Iona College made changes to the meal plan and the on-campus dining halls to get students more involved on campus, according to Nancy Morano, the director of Business Services.

The Iona meal plan has both on-campus and off-campus dining options. Business Services, the Office of Student Life and the Board of Trustees were all involved in the decision to give freshmen more on-campus money this year. Freshmen this year receive $1,477 on-campus and $500 off-campus per semester, while upperclassmen receive $1,177 on-campus and $800 off-campus.

Morano said that the goal of changing the amount of on-campus money for the meal plan is to keep new students on campus so they can learn about the culture of Iona College, become involved in clubs and focus on the benefits of residing on a small campus.

“I’m hoping that students will become more engaged on campus and create that sense of community and family,” Morano said.

Iona also made some changes to the two main on-campus dining halls over the summer. Tbe dining hall in LaPenta Student Union has changed its menus and offers different types of snacks and beverages than in past years. Vitanza Commons, located on the ground floor of Spellman Hall, has two new gaming tables: a shuffleboard table and a foosball table. The college also removed the blinds from the windows to let in more light.

The college will be installing two new televisions and an Xbox console in Vitanza Commons. Chartwells will also host Sunday Night Football, where it will serve wings and nachos while students watch the football game on the new TVs.

Some Iona students are supportive of the changes to Vitanza Commons.

“I really like natural lighting, so I really actually like the windows a lot,” senior Erin Collins said.

“I absolutely love the addition of the foosball table,” senior Jeff Rackliff said. “The shuffleboard table does need sand in order for the discs to properly slide across the table, but it’s still a great addition.”

Students also made suggestions on how to further improve the dining halls.

“I’m a little disappointed with LaPenta because the wait time is so long there to get anything now, and everything’s at one station,” senior Ian Martin said. “The changes here [in Spellman] are pretty nice, I guess […] there’s not much of a selection anymore. I feel like it’s the same every day, and there’s not really many healthy options besides a salad, but it’s hard to eat a salad for lunch and dinner every day.”

Collins also thinks there aren’t enough options in Vitanza Commons.

“There’s not very much variety in Spellman anymore,” Collins said. “They don’t really change up our main dishes, just strictly mac & cheese.”

Not all the changes to the meal plan are happening on campus. Texas Roadhouse, an off-campus vendor, was removed from Iona’s meal plan, according to a campus-wide email from Morano. Business Services sends applications out to existing and new vendors every year. These applications allow vendors to become a part of, or to continue being a part of, the meal plan. The Business Services Office reached out to Texas Roadhouse multiple times but never received a response, according to Morano.

AJ’s Burgers, another restaurant located on North Avenue, is also no longer on the meal plan this semester.

“We decided not to go on the meal plan this semester because the contract made it more cumbersome for us to provide our service,” Alan J. Cohen, the owner of AJ’s Burgers, said.

Tailgate, another off-campus vendor, was added to the off-campus meal plan. There is a total of 20 off-campus vendors that accept the Iona meal plan.