Finer dining

By Abby Rhodes
August 22, 2011

If you build it, they will come. If you build it and offer tasty, healthy, diverse food options inside, they will come in droves.

Responding to student demand for a more personalized mealtime experience in a more spacious, comfortable environment, Bradley University unveiled on Aug. 22 a newly renovated and expanded Geisert Hall cafeteria.

Following an official dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony, a crowd of students gathered to enjoy the first meal in what used to be a lively, but cramped, lunchtime hot spot. The lively atmosphere has endured, but the cramped confines are history.

“When the Bradley community comes together in collaboration on behalf of our students, we see truly remarkable results,” said Bradley President Joanne Glasser. “I am very proud to see this student-led initiative bring to campus a healthy, good tasting and diverse mealtime service that rivals any university dining option nationwide.”

Now offering full vegan, vegetarian and kosher menus, the sparkling 400-seat facility is in full operating mode, serving up more than 1,200 meals daily. With the grand opening came the introduction of Balanced U, a line of wholesome food options accompanied by educational information to help students develop and maintain healthy lifestyles.

The project was completed on a compact deadline without interrupting service to students, but the initiative dates back two years to a dedicated mission by student leaders. As the food and housing officer on the Association of Residence Halls, Brandon Larison ’12 took the student voice straight to the top. He invited President Glasser to dine with him in the Geisert cafeteria, where he shared with her the results of student surveys about food preferences and blueprints for an expansion.

“It was so packed that day that one of the students had to get up and give her his seat. She got a first-hand view of what the needs were and fast-tracked the process through her cabinet and Board of Trustees,” Larison said.

Larison and Glasser continue to meet monthly for lunch in one of the University’s dining facilities where they discuss ideas for further improving campus food service options.

“This project brings more than a beautiful facility and great food options to Bradley students,” said Tricia Anklan, student body president. “It speaks volumes about the importance our University places on the student voice.”