“WE DO NOT SERVE ICE CREAM/QUESADILLAS ANYMORE.” Those are the words that were posted in front of Paisano’s and Caliente’s stations in the Yablokaff-Wallace Dining Center ( DC). Students either walk away with disappointment or stay in line to order their second choice. There have been certain food items removed from the menu and DC Executive Chef, Mitch Vanagten, has a lot to say.

For health reasons, there is no longer the option to order an ice-cream scoop on a cup or a cone. There was a concern with the rocky road ice-cream, which contains nuts, and the possibility for it to be transferred into another student’s scoop. This would be disastrous for any student with a peanut allergy, so the DC staff decided it was best to remove the ice-cream scoops altogether. “There were 20-30 people (students included) rotating in the area and it’s easy to get confused” Vanagten said. There was also a recent health inspection in which the health inspector demanded that there be a hot water well for the ice-cream scoopers to be sanitized and cleaned after each use. However, there is no power to sustain this because the power is mainly going toward operating the blender for smoothies (a popular choice) and the ice-cream cooler. In order to resolve this and still offer cold desserts, there are now ice-cream bars and popsicles on the menu; they will be in sealed wrappers, of course. They also offer smoothies, pizza, nachos, and other grab-and-go options without having to enter the main general DC. As of right now, due to the staff shortages, there are not enough cashiers to work each shift. So, the grab-and-go options are only limited to certain hours from 11 A.M. to 2 P.M (lunch) and 6 P.M to 8 P.M  (dinner).

Another item on the menu that is affected by staff shortages are the quesadillas. They were being ordered in larger amounts (as much as eight people at a time) and the quesadillas just took too long to cook. Also, with the limited cooking space, the cooks found it difficult to handle the orders. Vanagten, along with Gilbert Rios (Chef Manager) and Katrina Trexler (DC Manager), decided to remove the quesadillas from the menu. “We were short-staffed; it was a difficult decision” Vanagten said. However, there is still some hope for these food items to make a comeback with the new DC that is expected to open in fall of 2018.

The DC team is planning to bring back the quesadillas for dinner service only for the week of March 19th. Paisano’s express will be extending their hours so that students can have several options at different times of day. While, there is still much work to be done, Vanagten encourages students to speak up about any concerns or questions they have regarding the DC. He wants nothing else but for the students to be content with the food options and have a say in the food that they are purchasing/consuming. If you have any questions, feel free to email the DC at dining@ucmerced.edu.  


Photo Credit: Rae Anne Tamayo



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