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Sweet treats and more: What’s new in campus dining

As an on-campus student who uses the 16-swipe Diplomat Standard meal plan, just about all of my meals come from Miami’s dining halls, with a good 75% of them being from MapleStreet Dining Commons. 

With Miami dining expanding its offerings for the spring 2023 semester, nearly all of the dining halls have added new equipment, stations and offerings.

The most popular option, without a doubt, has been ice cream.

While Western Dining Commons has had a soft-serve station for years, it has been in-and-out of use for years, only temporarily opening operations for short, few-month stints before closing down. Living on Western campus my first year, I waited my entire fall semester hoping the ice cream station would open.

At my bi-annual start of the semester dinner, the first thing I saw when I walked into Maple was a passerby with a bowl of Oreo swirl ice cream. I was immediately intrigued. Where did this come from?

Tucked away in the back corner of MapleStreet (and Garden, too!), a new fan-favorite has emerged: the soft serve machine.

The MapleStreet ice cream station — next to the pasta and pizza stations — is equipped with vanilla, chocolate and swirl self-serve soft-serve ice cream and a toppings bar featuring Oreos, chocolate chips, fruit, whipped cream and more.

After the first few days of operation, the ice cream station added cones to its toppings bar, allowing students to make their own cones in addition to bowls.

While the ice cream station has been incredibly popular (with the machine even running out of ice cream on some occasions) it replaced the dining hall’s Medi Bar, which offered tzatziki salad, kabobs, steamed vegetables and other tasty offerings.

As a frequent former user of the Medi Bar, I eagerly await to see if the station will be continued elsewhere, as its elimination means the elimination of fresh vegetables and meat in favor of ice cream. 

Maple has another exciting new offering as well: the panini press. At the salad station, students can request sandwiches and paninis freshly-made and receive with them a side of crispy saratoga chips: a combo that has become a quick favorite of mine.

At Garden, additions to breakfast have been center stage, with a new waffle-making station and an array of sauces and syrups at the Miami Grind station. Just this morning, I was able to make a cinnamon sugar waffle with a caramel-drizzled latte — all without having to use my declining dollars at Starbucks.

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With new options at the dining halls, dining halls have been crowded. Anyone who has tried eating lunch or dinner at Garden in the last few days knows the near-impossibility of finding a free table or, if you’re with friends, a table bigger than four seats that hasn’t already been snagged.

While dining options change over the course of the semester, at least for now, there’s never been a better time to get a dessert in the dining halls.