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Stolen forks, struggling food trucks: Five takeaways from dining meeting

At Wednesday evening's Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee meeting, student representatives discussed the state of food on Duke's campus with Robert Coffey, executive director of dining services, and onboarded new members into DUSDAC's normal routines.

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the meeting:

Food trucks at Duke are struggling

Coffey told DUSDAC that Duke Dining's food truck program is suffering from low traffic—and Duke's abundance of fire lanes. The food trucks, which currently park at 300 Swift and near Edens Quad, are struggling in both locations this year despite previously performing better at 300 Swift. Coffey attributed this to an increase in food options at the student apartment complex, which now houses Thrive.

"We're looking at some other locations and we're running into fire lanes—everything is considered a fire lane," Coffey said.

Are reusable mugs coming (back) to Café?

DUSDAC is helping to oversee big changes to Sprout and Farmstead, but the committee also suggested tweaks to a handful of other eateries on campus. While many are part of ongoing initiatives—including adding flexibility to first-year meal plans—DUSDAC also discussed bringing reusable ceramic mugs to Café.

Café currently offers food in both to-go containers and dishes, and drinks are only available in plastic or paper cups.

Duke dining has a theft problem

Although Coffey suggested that Duke Dining is open to bringing the mugs back, he did point out that the mugs have been tried before. When Café first opened, Duke Dining made an initial investment in mugs, which were quickly and permanently borrowed from the Brodhead Center.

This theft problem is not limited to Café.

"We have an issue with theft here at Duke Dining," said Allie Rauch, a senior and co-chair of DUSDAC.

Forkapalooza is here

Speaking of theft, Duke Dining's first attempt at fixing its fork theft problem, Fork Amnesty Day, picked up national media attention. This year, Duke is dealing with its silverware shortage by bringing in 9,000 new forks, which should be enough to keep Duke running, Coffey said. 

Bubble tea is dead (for now)

DUSDAC had discussed bringing bubble tea to the Bryan Center in the space previously held by Red Mango. The plan was put on hold by summertime flooding, and may now be shelved for another option. Although bubble tea was the frontrunner to fill the space last year, the space is currently being used for storage as Duke finishes repairs elsewhere in the building.

As those repairs wrap up, Coffey said that he hopes to work with DUSDAC on new plans as early as December. While bubble tea is still on the table, DUSDAC suggested that they are open to other options.

"We're not wedded to bubble tea," said junior Annie Roberts, co-chair of DUSDAC.


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