MIT Dining Committee Releases Documents

Will next year’s incoming freshmen pay a mandatory fee for food? The “Blue Ribbon Committee” of students and administrators charged with determining the future of MIT dining has reported no new progress toward articulating a food policy since early December, when The Tech reported that a mandatory fee was among the committee’s proposals.

The committee has, however, released documents that reveal information not previously made publicly available, including a full list of the committee’s 20-some members, a description of surveys conducted by the committee (but not their results), and a set of answers from committee representatives to student questions. The documents can be found at

A dominant idea in the committee’s discussion was reported to be a “minimum nutritional fee,” intended to improve student nutrition by making students buy more meals at dormitories and local restaurants.

In a survey commissioned by the committee, both undergraduates and graduate students indicated an interest in healthy eating habits. But less than 20 percent of undergraduates and 30 percent of graduate students characterized their diets as “well-balanced” in the survey, the committee said in the questions and answers document. Securing nutritious options for students is a goal of the committee.

Based on its surveys, the committee made a list of recommendations for changes to dining at MIT. In December, the Undergraduate Association grew uncomfortable with the power given the committee and passed a bill requesting that undergraduates have a bigger say in future dining decisions. The bill, 40 UAS 6.4, required the committee to publish its meeting summaries, its new proposals, and all the data it considered when making its recommendations.

The committee has not yet taken a complete stance on MIT dining, according to committee member and UA Vice President Michael A. Bennie ’10. The committee is still awaiting a report from Envision Strategies, an operations consulting company specializing in restaurant management, food service, and college dining programs.

MIT hired Envision Strategies to evaluate a set of proposals made by the Blue Ribbon committee that would alter MIT’s dining plan. The committee expects to receive the Envision Strategies report in the near future; in early December, they expected the evaluations by early January.

While the committee has not yet scheduled its next meeting, they plan to meet once the new report arrives.