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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, March 5, 2024

SMFA students find limited dining options on campus

A student buys food at Cafe des Cart, the SMFA's only dining option on campus as of March 24.

Facing a lack of full-service dining options, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts is currently offering students meal plans at other universities.

The Cafe des Arts, which is the SMFA campus' only food service option, is pending renovation and not offering full service, according to the SMFA website. Instead, the cafe is offering an express service called the Cafe des Cart.

Tufts Director of Dining and Business Services Patti Klos explained that students are offered plans at nearby Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) and Wentworth Institute of Technology this year. Klos told the Daily in an email that Tufts is looking to upgrade options at the SMFA.

"We do plan to create a café service at SMFA and tentatively plan for this work to be completed for fall 2018," Klos said. "When the café at SMFA is restored, we will be able to have a more complete integration between the two campuses."

Several dual-degree students have noted that the SMFA's dining options are extremely limited. The issue of dining is among various details -- including shuttle service between the two campuses and the housing situation for first-year SMFA students -- that Tufts is working to address since it acquired the SMFA last July.

First-year Isabella Kiser is on the premium meal plan, although not all dual-degree students are required to enroll in the premium meal plan, according to Kiser.

“Dual-degree students are allowed to opt into a meal plan that consists of about 200 meals per semester and about 900 dollars in Rhino Bucks, which can be used in a bunch of restaurants and stores around SMFA,” Kiser told the Daily in an email.

Kiser added that SMFA students have always had the option to go to other nearby schools for dining service because the SMFA only has a small cafe. In particular, MassArt has offered dining plans to SMFA students in the past, Klos noted.

First-year dual-degree student Nayoung Kim, who is also on a premium meal plan, noted that JumboCash and Rhino Bucks are not used interchangeably, because Rhino Bucks can only be used at the cafe at the SMFAKim told the Daily in an electronic message that she appreciated the effort to offer alternate options, although she chooses to use her meal plan at Tufts since she spends more time on the Medford/Somerville campus.

Lily Pisano, a dual-degree student on the dual-degree meal plan, commented on the lack of adequate dining services at the SMFA.

“SMFA has a small café that sells some food throughout the day. This aside, there is very little to get," Pisano, a first-year, told the Daily in an email. "In this way, dining has been fairly inaccessible from my experience. As a result, I usually go to Tufts to eat before traveling to the [SMFA] if I have a class there."

Pisano explained that traveling back and forth from Tufts to the SMFA on the shuttle can be inconvenient, especially since many options available around the SMFA are only accessible to those with sufficient funds.

"Before, students could eat at MassArt because of the fact that SMFA is relatively small and doesn’t have or need the space for a dining hall,” she said.

Kiser said that the café at SMFA is not only overpriced for the quality and quantity of food available, but it is also inconvenient for dual-degree students. Pisano and Kim both hope to see an expansion of the dining hall options now that Tufts has acquired the SMFA.

“I think it would be much more convenient ... if they unified the 'university debit' or at least allowed JumboCash and Rhino Bucks to be used interchangeably,” Kim said.

While Tufts continues to offer dining options at nearby colleges, Klos said that plans to reopen the Cafe des Arts are underway.

"We are aware of the concerns at the SMFA campus and are working on improvements to better meet the needs of the campus community," Klos said.