Dining rolls out new meal plans, dining center


Courtesy of Ames Historical Society

Student engineers pose with the Dinkey train.

Maggie Curry

We sat down with ISU Dining marketing coordinator Brittney Rutherford to hear about the changes students can expect on campus this year, including unlimited meals, a dining center inside Friley and a new sub shop in the Memorial Union.

Friley Windows

Friley Windows is a new dining center opening inside Friley Residence Hall. The residence hall had a dining center previously alumni may remember as “Windows” or “Dungeons.” The former dining center closed in 2003 when the Union Drive Community Center opened, according to dining’s website.

Friley Windows will be open on weekdays (Monday through Friday) and begin serving at 11 a.m. for lunch, offer continuous service between 2 and 4 p.m., and serve dinner from 4:30 – 7 p.m. It will also offer late night options from 7 to 11 p.m.

“At a certain time they’ll take their menu back and it’s more pizzas and things people will want to eat at night,” Rutherford said.

The venue will be similar to Conversations, a dining center in the basement of Oak-Elm Residence Hall on the east side of campus. Entrances are from the east side of Friley along Union Drive and from inside Friley.

Three large serving stations offer classic favorites, international cuisine, fresh pizza, desserts, a salad bar and a vegan station, according to the website.

You can view the menu for the first day of classes, which includes but is not limited to rice bowls, lamb roast, pizza, farro and soups, online.

New meal plans

New meal plans are here, with a focus on unlimited access to dining centers. These plans, the CyPower and Cyclone plans, have unlimited meal swipes, a select number of express meals and variation in dining dollars.

“We couldn’t do an anytime-meal plan without Friley Windows,” Rutherford said. “We looked at it years ago, five or more now, and we didn’t have capacity.”

Meal swipes: can be used to enter Conversations Dining, Seasons Marketplace, Storms Dining, Union Drive Marketplace, Friley Windows. Meals expire at the end of a semester.

Express meals: use on the go in the MU Food Court, Hawthorn, Clyde’s, East Side Market, West Side Market, South Side Market and FROOTS. Can be used for guests.

Dining Dollars: like cash, can be used in any dining locations, including cafés, generally for snacks or a coffee. Can be used for guests, and expire at the end of the academic year.

Previously, students would have to use a meal to enter the dining center, even if they just wanted a bowl of cereal, a drink or a piece of fruit. With unlimited meals, students can come and go without worrying about losing swipes.

“It shouldn’t be difficult to get something to eat, or to try to figure out how to use your meal plan,” Rutherford said. “You’re here to go to school. We’ll feed you, we’ll clean up, cook, do all that for you.”

For one year, a transition plan between the old system and the new, unlimited plans is available. The transition plan is the Gold plan, and has an allotted 200 meals (or swipes) for each semester.

Students are required to have a meal plan if they live in residence halls, with the exception of Wallace and Wilson Halls.

Students living in Wallace and Wilson Halls, Frederiksen Court, Legacy Tower, Schilletter and University Village, Iowa State West, the Greek community and off campus are not required to have a meal plan but can choose from ISU dining’s options.

Student not required to have a meal plan have additional options. Silver and Bronze Plans have a set number of meals and dining dollars per semester. There are also options to ‘build your own’ meal plan for those students by choosing ‘blocks’ of meal swipes or dining dollar amounts.

“We’re not a grocery store, we’re not set up to be like that, so dining dollars are set up to be ‘I want a coffee, I want a snack,’” Rutherford said.

Lance & Ellie’s sub shop

Set to open late fall or early spring semester, Lance & Ellie’s is taking the space Subway occupied in the Memorial Union. Rutherford described the shop as a high-end deli with big-city feel. The name comes from the swans who live on Lake Laverne.

The experience will be totally different from getting a sub at the East Side or West Side Markets. The chefs are even developing their own bread recipe, Rutherford said.

“It’s a totally, totally different venue,” Rutherford said.

They’re hoping to offer a to-go, pre-order line similar to what Panera has, where people can pre-pay and pick up their sandwich, Rutherford said.

Dinkey dining truck

ISU Dining is looking into opening a food truck on campus. Right now Rutherford said the menu of choice would be walking tacos, but they’re working on making the truck adaptable to many needs, like serving at a function or event.

It would be named after the original train that ran between Ames and the campus. According to a previous Daily article, for the first students of Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm (Iowa State University’s original name) commuting the few miles between the city of Ames and campus was a struggle.

Students and staff of the early college had to travel by foot or horse across dirt roads to reach the school each day, until 1890, when a group of locals got together.

The new railway was complete soon after and made its first run from downtown Ames to the heart of campus on July 4, 1891. Termed “the Dinkey,” the trains ran every hour between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., costing only a nickel a ride for decades. The train ended in 1929.


Dinkey train transforms Ames travel

Six facts about the Dinkey train

Throwback Thursdays: The Hub