UC Merced Opens Expanded Dining Facility

Gift helps support new dining terrace and herb garden

Housing ExpansionMERCED - The extraordinary growth and popularity of the University of California, Merced, in the last three years is accompanied by an increased demand for on-campus housing and support services. Just in time for the new academic year, UC Merced has opened its newly expanded dining facility.

The Yablokoff-Wallace Dining Center has become a campus icon, building a sense of community where students, faculty, staff and community members can connect while sharing a meal together. As one of the social hubs of the UC Merced campus, the dining center needs to expand to accommodate the growing university population, said Jane Lawrence, vice chancellor for student affairs. That growth includes more seating, a larger kitchen, more food options and a private dining room for events.

"Thanks to the Wallace family, the expanded dining center will further enhance the student experience by providing more dining options, and will build upon the living-learning community we are creating here at UC Merced," Lawrence said.

Thanks to a second gift from donors Joel and Elizabeth Wallace, the dining expansion includes a landscaped terrace that features a culinary herb garden with the dual purpose of educating students while providing dining center chefs with organic ingredients such as rosemary, lavender, basil, thyme and mint. Naming of the Elizabeth and Joel Wallace Terrace and Elizabeth's Garden reflects the couple's deep commitment to education and a positive student experience.

"We felt the dining terrace and herb garden were a natural complement to the dining center. It will be a nice place for students," Elizabeth Wallace said. "Many students haven't experienced growing their own food. The garden will allow them to learn about wholesome, organic foods that will be used right in the dining center kitchen."

Nearly every plant in Elizabeth's Garden will be edible, from the climbing roses that will decorate the back wall to the kumquats that will adorn the terrace.

In addition to an enhanced facility and more healthy dining options, students arriving this fall have noticed a few other changes. Rather than the disposable containers and flatware made from recycled materials used in years past, diners are served on melamine dishes and use plastic drinkware and metal flatware that encourages dining in. Only takeout orders will be served on eco-friendly recyclable containers.

"It's the goal of the dining center to have the food be attractive and nutritious so that diners feel right at home," Lawrence said.

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