Changes underway in UNI Dining



Students gather in Rialto, where hot breakfast has been reintroduced this semester on the weekends from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.


The Northern Iowan had the opportunity to sit down with Carol Fletcher, UNI Dining Director, Sara Eberle, Assistant Director of Residential Dining, Annie Karr, Assistant Director of Marketing and Nick Rafanello, Assistant VP and Executive Director of Housing & Dining, to discuss all of the changes that the UNI Dining department is going through. 

UNI Dining is split into two main sections, residential (Piazza and Rialto) and retail (vendors such as Godfather’s Pizza in the Union). 

For Piazza and Rialto, this semester has looked a little different. While they’re still using the continuous serving model that they’ve been using, they’re facing many other issues when it comes to making sure they feed all of the students that need it. 

One of the main factors in this are supply chain issues. 

According to the dining department itself, they’re still facing supply chain issues so bad that up to 20 items they order may not be in a shipment due to shortages or other supply chain issues. This is why some of the items displayed on the menu may not align with what’s actually being served, due to the tight turn around. 

Another issue the dining department is facing is staffing. While Rialto is moving back to serving on china, Piazza is still serving on styrofoam plates due to low numbers on staff. But, with a new influx of students, the UNI Dining department looks forward to making new hires, and possibly opening up student favorites like Piazza’s Wok and Rialto’s Emilliano’s. 

Beyond some of the challenges the dining centers are facing, there are some new additions to the spaces. 

“One thing we want students to know is that we listen to them,” Fletcher said. “Our end of the year dining survey said that a majority of students wanted to see hot breakfast come to the dining centers, so we brought hot breakfast to the dining centers.” 

Hot breakfast will be available on weekends in Rialto from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., shifting from breakfast to brunch around noon. 

While Rialto claims hot breakfast, Piazza received a new pancake machine, available for students to use during continental breakfast hours. 

The retail side of UNI Dining is also seeing some changes. Some may have noticed the movement of Godfather’s Pizza and Kachin’s Sushi into Maucker Union, while they both used to be inhabitants of 23rd Street Market. 

“The Union has some higher traffic than 23rd Street,” Rafanello commented. “The movement of these two options allows all students to access them in one central place.” 

The UNI Dining team looks forward to expanding options across their retail stations, including adding half gallons and two-liter beverages at Essentials, as well as online ordering. Online ordering will include other options than what is normally available at Maucker Union, including large pizzas and bulk ordering of sushi and sandwiches for meetings. 

Some students also may have noticed the microfarm currently in the Union. The dining staff is currently growing micrograins to be used in the food they serve. The leftovers will go to the Panther Pantry. 

With all of these new changes, the UNI Dining team expects a new “block plan” option for meal plans to be implemented for the next school year. The new plan will be offered as a second option for UNI’s incoming students, rather than the mandatory everyday plan. More details on the new plan will be released at a later time.

UNI Dining expects to see the same amount of supply chain issues as the year goes on, but students can still expect the same level of service from them, despite the issues. 

The Piazza and Rialto dining centers are looking for new hires, and their application can be found on Handshake. For any questions, comments or concerns, head to