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Harvard College Dining Revamp, New Food Options Draw Measured Praise from Students

A Harvard University Dining Services employee serves tacos from the Dunster House dining hall grill.
A Harvard University Dining Services employee serves tacos from the Dunster House dining hall grill. By Truong L. Nguyen

Harvard junior Jamal Nimer ’23-’24 said he returned from leave this semester to find dining hall food that he described as “significantly, significantly better.”

“I think they’re doing well with these special meals, like the tacos today and also the Nashville chicken sandwiches — those are really good,” Nimer said on Tuesday. “Overall, the offerings are a lot better.”

On Feb. 15, Harvard University Dining Services debuted a revamped menu and a slew of other changes to undergraduate meal offerings, including a more diverse variety of food options, themed brunches, and customizable, deconstructed dinners.

Peter A. Jin ’25 said he has gradually noticed changes, especially in the range of food options.

“I’ve been generally a fan of HUDS, but I’ve definitely noticed a difference starting mid-February,” Jin said Tuesday. “I feel like I’ve been noticing more selection in the hotbar.”

Isaac A. Newman ’25 said he first saw positive changes to HUDS months before official changes were implemented.

“For me, the HUDS revamp began in the spring of last year, with these beautiful bowls here,” said Newman, gesturing to two stacked white salad bowls.

This year’s update is not the first time HUDS has made efforts to tweak its offerings in recent years. In fall 2021, Harvard’s dining service added brunch service on Saturdays in all houses and adjusted dining hours.

Newman added he would like to see some extra salad toppings.

“My main thing I would like to request are toasted pine nuts, and sesame oil at all the dining halls because it’s everyone’s favorite oil — and goat cheese. I’m already so happy with the revamp, but that would just put some icing on top,” he said.

Halal Cumin Rubbed Chicken is served as part of the new HUDS menu in the Dunster House dining hall.
Halal Cumin Rubbed Chicken is served as part of the new HUDS menu in the Dunster House dining hall. By Truong L. Nguyen

Jordan A. Sanchez ’23-’24 said she has noticed “a positive shift” in the food quality and lauded the Black History Month-inspired dishes served in February.

“I’ve enjoyed it,” Sanchez said of the new menu. “Then again, I feel like I’m very easy to please when it comes to food.”

Despite the new dishes, not all students said they noticed an improvement in food quality.

“I think with their newly adopted menu, there’s a sense of novelty,” Pranav S. Ganta ’25 said Tuesday. “I think that once you see the repetitiveness of the menu over time, that novelty wears away and the food itself hasn’t improved at all. It’s just the same grilled chicken with different sauces, like, 18 different times.”

Inseo Yeo ’26 — who is living on campus for the first time this semester — said though he does not find the quality to be much different, he thought the food was “more fresh.”

“Quality hasn’t changed drastically, but quantity-wise, I think they’re trying to add more options, which I do appreciate,” Yeo said.

Lap T. Nguyen ’24 also said he values the effort to bring new cultural influences to the dishes.

“I really want to highlight their creativity to incorporate foods from different cuisines and different cultures,” Nguyen said. “Sometimes they don’t fully hit the mark, but I really do appreciate their effort and it’s really good.”

—Staff writer J. Sellers Hill can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SellersHill.

—Staff writer Nia L. Orakwue can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @nia_orakwue.

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