The past two weeks at UMass have been a record-breaking, ground-breaking, all-around fun time. After setting the record for the world’s largest fresh fruit salad—made official by Guinness World Records—on Labor Day, we celebrated the grand reopening of the Hampshire DC on September 10. We also opened two new retail locations: Roots Café and the Hampshire Market. What makes these openings so exciting is that each of them shares a common purpose: serving fresh, sustainable and healthy food while building community. I hope you are enjoying the new venues as much as we are enjoying serving you at them.
Originally built in 1966, the Hampshire Dining Commons was one of two DCs serving the Southwest Residential area. In 2011 when we received confirmation that UMass would break ground on the new Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex, we started planning the Hampshire DC renovation so we could accommodate 1500 additional beds. We quickly got to work, using the opportunity not only to give the facility a facelift but also to rethink how to make a dining commons better in every way.
We closed the Hampshire DC for nine months. During that time, we turned it into a state-of- the art facility that today seats 650. To accommodate a larger numbers of diners, we opted for an oval servery—the first servery in the nation with this shape—to ensure more efficient traffic flow.
Additionally, there are 12 concepts, all of which showcase a broad diversity of cuisine. Each has a focus on healthy, sustainable cooking. The Hampshire DC now complements the Berkshire DC and provides another destination for dining in the southwest area of campus.
Chancellor Subbaswamy and his wife, Mala, performed the ribbon cutting. The Minuteman marching band played our flight song and five guest chefs and 3000 student guest rounded out the occasion, making it quite an experience to remember. The Hampshire DC reopening was even featured in the Boston Globe for its commitment to serving healthy and sustainable food.
But how is the food at Hamp, you ask? Feedback from students has been very positive. They are enjoying the variety and the healthy cuisine served in the new facility, but they’ve let us know that they miss the burrito. No worries; the burrito will be return soon—with a healthy twist.
Chancellor Subbaswamy concluded his appearance at the grand opening by saying to the students: “Come for the food and stay for the education.” I couldn’t agree more. And, as I like to say, at UMass anything is possible but the best is still to come.
This is Ken Toong. Thank you for keeping UMass Dining at the top. You can contact Ken [email protected]