When Meredith College students return to campus in August, Belk Dining Hall will have a new look. The dining hall is being refurbished this summer in a project managed by the College’s Facilities Department.
Changes to the dining hall will result in “decor that is warm and inviting, with a Tuscan feel,” said Director of Facilities Services Sharon Campbell.
The updates include new ceiling, paint, lighting, a new sound system and new furniture. The changes will also include a new patio in front of Belk, furnished with tables and seating. Seating will also be added on the existing side patios at the east and west entrances of Belk, along with improved lighting for the courtyard between Belk and Johnson Hall.
Belk’s front doors will be open to allow students better access if they wish to eat on the patio. The downstairs meeting spaces in Belk will also be refurbished with new paint, lighting and furniture. The bathrooms on the first floor will get new fixtures, finishes and flooring.
President Jo Allen said the updates are in keeping with the important role Belk Dining Hall plays on campus.
“Belk is a central point for all kinds of meetings, recruiting activities and social gatherings,” Allen said. “We are delighted that a refurbished Belk Dining Hall and the surrounding grounds will be a more attractive place for students to dine, meet friends and family, and enjoy the beauty of this campus.”
Meredith students have been involved in the refurbishment project, helping to select furniture and upholstery designs. The new furniture will not be put into place until the end of the summer, ensuring that Meredith students are the first to be able to use the new tables and chairs, including some bench seating. There will be other aesthetic changes that are being kept as surprises for students.
“ARAMARK Facilities Management looks forward to student enjoyment of the refurbished facilities and has appreciated being able to contribute to an enhanced dining experience for all through the development, planning and implementation of this project,” Campbell said. “We greatly appreciate the leadership of President Allen and her trust in ARAMARK and the Facilities team to bring her vision to a reality.”
Extended Hours in Response to Student Requests
Campus Dining Director Scott Lamond said the changes will “create somewhat of a coffee house feel and less of a cafeteria feel. It will become a place folks want to hang out, work on projects or group activities and socialize.”
Lamond said many of the changes are in response to student input in recent campus dining surveys.
“The Dining Styles survey, which over 50% of our meal plan members responded to, has continued to show “place to socialize” and “comfortable and fun dining atmosphere” are the two areas we need to continue to work on,” Lamond said. “This project will have an immediate, measurable impact on those requests.”
Starting in the fall, students will also be able to enjoy extended dining hours.
“For the fall, the dining hall will stay open to 7.30 p.m. Monday through Friday instead of closing at 7 p.m.,” Lamond said. “This again is a result of student feedback.”
In addition to the extended hours for dining services, the east side of Belk will be open from 7:30 p.m.-11 p.m. serving coffee and other beverages.
President Allen said the extended hours will “make Belk a group study destination, an enhanced social spot, and a place where students have more input into after-hours programming.”
The Belk Dining Hall refurbishment project is being funded by ARAMARK, the company with which Meredith contracts for dining and facilities services. The Meredith Parents’ Council is also supporting the project.
“ARAMARK has been a wonderful partner for Meredith College, evidenced by its funding this project,” President Allen said. “We also thank our parents and the Parents' Council for taking on their own fund-raising initiative to enhance the dining hall and meeting spaces.” Lamond said the Belk Dining Hall update is an example of the College’s partnership with ARAMARK.
“ARAMARK is excited about funding this project and truly having an impact on the day to day lives of our customers,” Lamond said.
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