Eagle Dining recognizes that a diverse student body needs diverse dining options. Taking into consideration the preferences and special nutritional needs of students with hectic schedules, on- campus dining is more convenient than it has ever been and available in more locations. However, all students have that one favorite place that hits the spot more than the others.
Freshman public relations major Maria Williamson chose her favorite based on her Hispanic background.
“I’m really picky about what I eat,” Williamson said. “I love the Tortilla Fresca because it tastes like the type of Mexican food I cook. My favorite is the taco salad.”
Williamson feels at home when she eats there.
“I called my mom last week after eating lasagna in the Fresh,” she said. “It’s just not how my mother makes it.”
Tortilla Fresca is located in the International Center next to the bagel restaurant Einstein Bros. The two restaurants make up the Agora, and a long line can be seen trailing out of this popular spot at many times of day.
A freshman, who wished to remain anonymous, chose their favorite for a different reason.
“We like Chick-fil-A because it is close to our dorm,” one student said. “It’s a nice change from eating at the cafeteria. It just feels like real food.”
Chick-fil-A and Subway are in Seymour’s in the R.C. Cook Union, another bustling spot on campus.
Spencer Merrill is not a student at The University of Southern Mississippi, but sometimes he visits his on-campus friends just for the food. A Stone’s Throw, located behind Wilbur Hall, is a place he frequents.
“When me and my friends hang out, we always go to Stone’s Throw,” Merrill said. “The beef cheese steak is so good and the restaurant is open late. Sometimes we eat there twice in one night.”
However, no matter what students may say, numbers can show which eating location gets the most traffic, and that is the Fresh Food Company.
John Meyer, general manager of Eagle Dining, estimated that 30,000 meals are served in the campus cafeteria every week.
“The Fresh is definitely the most trafficked spot on campus,” Meyer said. “We have made some improvements that have increased the ethnic variety of meals we serve, but we also have food items that are always available.”
Eagle Dining makes sure that comfort foods like pizza or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are always an option, but there is always diversity. The menu changes every week.
“I eat at the Fresh Food Company every day and I always have something different,” Meyer said. “It is nice that variety is always available, but we do have some dishes that require students to be a little bit adventurous.”
Students prefer the Grill Station most when dining in the cafeteria. The Fresh had two grill stations last year, but decided to close one this year.
The Fresh can prepare a meal specially for a student who has allergies or certain aversions to ingredients in the food.
“If we make an Asian dish that includes peanuts and someone has a peanut allergy, we have a separate set of cookware that we will use to make that dish so that the student can enjoy the meal safely,” Meyer said.
Diners may not see immediate results, but Meyer assures that the goal of Eagle Dining is to feed as many people as possible.
“I know you can’t always make everyone happy, but we are going to try to please as many people eating on campus as we can,” he said.