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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Carmichael launches all new allergen-friendly menu, maintains traditional physical arrangements

Tufts Dining Services employee, Kat Barry, cleans the salad bar in Carmichael Dining Hall on January 27th, 2015.

Carmichael Dining Center has entered a new era of allergen-friendly cuisine available to the Tufts community, releasing an all-new peanut-, tree nut- and gluten-free menu.

Fresh at Carmichael — the new name for the rebranded dining centerprovides an increased variety and flexibility of food options for students with food allergies or dietary requirements.

Food is such an integral part of the student experience and we feel strongly that it is important to create a dining experience that is welcoming and accessible to all students,” Patti Klos, director of dining and business services, said in an email to the Daily.

The redesign of Carmichael focuses more on the menu than the physical space. Still, students will notice minor cosmetic changes within the establishment, including new, dark gray “Fresh at Carm” signage, an updated paint job and a take-out station. 

According to Klos, Tufts Dining has added a take-out area at the entrance to Carmichael. She said that this Carm2GO take-out station is intended to make it easier for students to pre-order food to avoid long wait times during high-service meal periods.

Carm2GO will be available Tuesday and Thursday from 12 –2 p.m. for lunch and Monday–Thursday from 5–7 p.m. for dinner. The dining center is also welcoming the return of indoor seating with current COVID-19 guidelines allowing for indoor occupancy to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Klos said that the dining team began developing the menu concepts that are being introduced this fall in early spring. 

“Designing a menu that is gluten and nut-free eliminated our ability to rely on convenience products or pre-processed products,” Klos said. “We decided to turn this to our advantage and make everything as fresh, authentic, and clean as possible.”

In total, the culinary team created over 190 new recipes on top of reworking older recipes to reflect a new, fresh approach to eating at Carmichael this year. In addition to the dining center’s classic recipes — such as vegetable mac and cheese and General Tso’s chicken — the new menu features options such as a ramen bar with chashu pork, a pho bar and blackberry butter

“The menu focuses on global flavors that are more nutrient-dense and more scratch cooking,” Klos said. “Most foods offered in the Dining Centers are made completely on campus, including the marinades and sauces.”

Sophomore Rachel Coll recalled first seeing the announcement that Carmichael was changing its menu options. 

“I immediately took a screenshot and sent it to my friends who are nut-free and gluten-free,” Coll said. “I was definitely excited for them, because I know that finding food that is right to eat for them can be hard.”

Despite changes to Carmichael’s menu and touch-ups to its physical appearance, the dining center is not getting the organizational restructure that was originally proposed in the spring. Dining Services initially consideredchanging Carmichael from its traditional buffet-style system to a retail establishment, similar to Hodgdon Food-on-the-Run. The move drew widespread protests and criticism from many students, including members of the Tufts Labor Coalition, who feared that the change would limit accessibility to on-campus food and cause Dining Services employees to lose their jobs. Following the outcry, Klos confirmed to the Daily in May thatCarmichael would continue to operate as a traditional dining center and that there would be no layoffs.

Emma Holland, an organizer with Tufts Labor Coalition, spearheaded the “Save Carm” campaign to mobilize students and community members to email, phonebank and sign petitions directed to the Tufts administration. She said she was happy with the ultimate outcome of the renovated Carmichael Dining Center. 

“I am vegetarian, and mostly vegan, so I appreciate that they're doing that,” Holland, a sophomore, said. “They got the gluten-free, nut-free situation that they wanted and we got the dining hall that we needed.”