Article by Marie Sykes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Bubble tea, acai bowls, and a new Tour of Italy – Wismer pasta edition? Dining services saw some notable changes over the summer, everywhere from Naturals to Cafe 2020 (with Lower Wismer to see a complete renovation next summer).
Upper Wismer now serves Wawa coffee and boasts a Tour of Italy pasta station complete with bread and dipping oil, and a salad of the day, alongside a promise of expanded future meals being served at the Saturday night steak night and the Wismer Grill.
Lower Wismer now does not close until 9:30pm, though only one of The Grill, SubConnection, and Tres stations will be open from 7-9:30 in a rotating schedule. Jazzman’s has more sandwiches and the C-Store now offers a variety of new protein-based snacks and “power beverages.”
This expansion of drinks is happening across campus with Naturals and Cafe 2020 carrying a similar variety, such as a protein smoothie to go. Bubble Tea can be found at any of these three places and acai bowls are new to Naturals. Cafe 2020 has afternoon dessert and beverage specials from Monday through Friday as well, but they struck one key item from the menu: the soup of the day.
What do students think about these new changes? Nick Chlanda ’25 and Annalyse Dickinson ’25 both commented that the food options had definitely improved. Gianna McCarthy ’25 particularly enjoys the new mini chocolate chips for the yogurt (located behind the salad bar). Connor Bernier ’25 said the “desserts have been really good.”
Natural’s new acai bowl has certainly been popular these past few weeks, according to Tanya, who runs Natural’s. The acai bowl has been the subject of one key complaint: its $9.99 price tag (with the equivalent of 1.3 meal swipes for about two scoops of acai and either four customizable toppings or NUMBER set toppings). “So expensive,” Lauren Markley ’26 commented. Missy Bryant responded that using meal swipes at Natural’s and Lower is using a “meal equivalency” and meal swipes may not equal a meal.
Verity Wolf ’27 pointed out their shock at the C-Store prices. One pack of sushi rolls costs $13 and the new charcuterie board is $18.99 for 12.5oz of meat, cheese, and olives.
Furthermore, a dozen eggs cost $4.69, compared to $1.19 at Target, and Panera soup is now priced at $8.19, where Target sets it at $5.69. For students on the dining dollar plan, this raise in prices also is accompanied by the convenience fee taken out of the available spending power, as students pay $2,588 for the plan and only receive the equivalent of $1,749 dining dollars (with the 60 meal swipes combined with the $1299 dining dollars), making this conversion factor $1.47 USD paid for $1 Dining Dollar. So when a student pays $8.19 Dining Dollars for a bowl of Panera soup from the C-Store, they are paying $12.03 USD, a bit over twice as much as they would pay for it at a local grocery store. The Bake City Protein Muffins have a much lower discrepancy, as they only cost $0.50 more than a single muffin is worth in the bulk pack on the brand’s website. When asking about the cost of items a few years ago in the C-Store compared to now, a Wismer employee pointed out that the cost of food has gone up.
Another cost complaint is the new commuter dining plan, with three options ranging from $475 to $1,195, with a similar chunk of spending power taken out to the dining dollar meal plan. “It’s more expensive than it’s worth, but I can see that the benefit is convenience and it brought it to the parents’ attention. My mom never talked to me about [buying food] [until she saw the email]” Hannah Conley ’23 said, who chooses to use Bear Bucks to buy on-campus meals instead, which comes with a 10% discount to purchases rather than a 47% extra cost, as students on the dining dollar meal plan pay.
One concern was the inaccurate rumor that meal plans increased in cost by 25%, though this is unfounded. Bryant confirmed that they increased by 3%, as was announced last November. Faculty meal costs also increased in Upper Wismer (not student meal costs, whether on the Bear Buck or not), though Bryant stated during the senate meeting this was to keep it fair since the faculty prices have only increased by $0.50 in recent history, and that was in 2020. The meal plan has increased as well as in-house item prices, though there has not been an increase in dining dollars or meal swipes accompanying these plans.
A few students did say they wished Upper Wismer had more options for those with dietary restrictions. Wolf said she wished there was some sort of option beyond fruit for a vegan dessert, and Miara Truong ’25 said she wished it was more obvious where the gluten free options are, “especially with dessert.” She said the only change for gluten-free options were with the pasta bar, but she “[hasn’t] found any” other changes.
Students are encouraged to submit suggestions to Wismer if they want to see any changes. There will be a dining survey released soon and its contents will help inform the dining contract negotiation this next year. Until then, enjoy exploring the new Wismer options.