Davison Hall renovation sparks quality debate


Courtesy/ Mia Tidd

Davison Hall’s newly renovated dining commons houses new food stations that bring food preparation and customization directly to students.

Anna Raley, News Editor

Saint Anselm College prides itself on its commitment to the Benedictine Catholic values of hospitality, stability, work, care, and learning. In doing so, the College engages with and aims to engage with outside companies that parallel their Benedictian mission. In the late Spring of 2021, the college partnered with AVI Foodsystems to become their new dining provider. 

At the beginning of the 2022-2023 academic year, students returned to campus to experience physical as well as culinary changes to Davison Hall. “Smoke and Fire” is a new offering that acts as a grill station for students to customize their own burgers, hot dogs, and steak and cheese. 

In addition, the station “Homestyle” was created to prioritize comfort foods, such as BBQ ribs and New England Baked Cod.

The “Fusion” station serves up a new creation each day. Some of the recent fusion offerings have included funnel cake fries, ramen noodles, and build your own burrito bowls. 

To accommodate and emphasize the new culinary additions, the renovated dining commons has been made to allow for the culinarians to move cooking from behind the scenes to in front of the student body. There is a new stone pizza oven as well as more serve yourself options to open the opportunity for customization.

  However, despite these developments, Saint Anselm experiences a significant drop in food ranking nationwide.

To the surprise of many students and faculty, the Anselmian expectation has fallen. The college, once emphasizing its 8th place ranking in the nation for food. Following the pandemic, Davison Dining dropped to the 15th, and now, in 2022, does not even make the top 30. In the 2023 Princeton Review, Saint Anselm College does not make the top #25 list of best campus food; contrary to what the school currently advertises on their website. Saint Anselm ranks #32 for dining, according to Niche.com.

Freshman Enrique Ingram Mendez explained how he has done programs on the Saint Anselm campus in years past and has enjoyed the food tremendously through those programs. However, coming to school this year, he argues that the food is “very hit or miss.” Mendez failed to comment upon what he would say his biggest praise to the new dining hall would be, however, he did identify the pasta and vodka sauce to be his favorite food here so far.

Separate to Mendez, senior student Riley Lavin maintains a perspective of knowing what Davison was like before and after the changes made from the previous years. Lavin stated that she enjoys how updated the dining hall feels, however had complaints upon the changes in placement; specifically how the deli was moved. 

In the reflection upon how Davison feels this year as opposed to her freshman year, Lavin comments on how there is the feeling that there has been a shift of focus, from the food itself, to the use of a larger company to do all the work; with the assumption of saving money. If she had to change anything she would want Davison to include what it once had; such as the classic crepe bar and pasta sauté. 

In addition to the downfall of the vaunt of Anselmian food, the school also mourns the loss of Gallo Café, located in the Student Center. Esther Reed, the Resident Director for food service said that “Dining Services has made the difficult decision to temporarily close Gallo Café due to staffing shortages while we aggressively search for new team members. In order to reopen Gallo, we need to fill two full-time dining services positions. As soon as we are able to fill these positions, we will reopen the Gallo Café.” 

However, Reed specifies that dining services as a whole is actively working to combat the worker shortage by engaging with a full time recruiter to fill the needed positions, and emphasizes to the community, “If you or anyone you know is looking for work in a fast paced, fun environment, please reach out to us.”

Despite the quagmires AVI has troubled with, they highlight their mission: “to provide on trend, culturally appropriate, delicious and nutritious meals to Saint Anselm College. Our culinarians are constantly trying out new cuisines and getting feedback from students.” Reed further explains how, “This year, our biggest objective is to enhance our relationship with the college community.  We plan to do this through our Pop-up events, partnering with student groups for special events and meeting with student leaders frequently. Our focus is and continues to be satisfying our customers. Passion and being ingrained in the college community are key to our operation,” and emphasizes, “my door is always open – please stop by and say hello to our team!”