The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new University Dining Hall took place Friday, Feb. 3, officially welcoming all of the vendors and businesses who took part in the construction of the new building.
The ceremony began with opening remarks from Minnesota State University, Mankato’s president Richard Davenport, followed by speeches from Dr. David Jones, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management; Faical Rayani, student president of the Minnesota State Student Association (MSSA); Alysia Przybilla, student president of MNSU’s Residence Hall Association (RHA); and Cindy Janney, director of Residential Life.
To celebrate in a style fit for a dining hall, the ceremonial “ribbon” that was cut was actually a cake in the shape of a ribbon, created in the dining hall’s own bakery.
Many of the speakers mentioned the importance of student involvement in not only the creation process of the dining hall, but also the funding of it as well. The building was funded by a student revenue fund, which consists of money from student’s room and board fees.
“This building could not be possible if it wasn’t for the students,” President Davenport said. “I want to recognize that students have been involved in the design, planning, and financial support for this building, this university dining center. So this is their center.”
One of the concepts that was key in the design was the idea of “food moving forward,” or “food forward,” according to Davenport. This means that the food being served is prepared right in front of the students.
“It’s a big change in the way our students select their food,” Davenport said. “They are eating healthier because they can see all the options that are out there and they can watch all the food being prepared and cut up right in front of them.”
Janney “geeked out” during her speech about the building’s sustainability features, which include composting, LED lighting, daylight harvesting, heat reclaiming systems, variable speed fans and overhead hoods, and the reusing of gray water. She highlighted food waste and composting as one of the areas where the new building has already seen vast improvements in just the first month of operation.
“Last year, the old resident dining operation produced 26 bags of trash each day. Big bags of trash, the stuff that would go into the dumpster,” she said. “This university dining center has reduced that daily stream to two bags of trash, plus two bins of pulp organic materials that will get composted.”
Janney also stated that more students were eating in the new dining hall by 2 p.m. every day than had eaten all day in the old building. These “snapshots” capture the success of the project, said Janney.
Davenport and Jones emphasized that the modern features and sustainability features make the new dining hall a model for all of other dining halls across the U.S.
“I’m not exaggerating,” Davenport said. “I’ve talked to architects and lots of other folks and, believe me, they plan to use this center as an example of a center for the future for institutions around the country. We’re proud that our students led the effort at getting this to us.”