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Exciting Changes Coming to Mason Dining: Top 10 Features You Don’t Want to Miss!

As we gear up for a brand-new semester, get ready to indulge in a mouthwatering culinary adventure like never before with Mason Dining! This fall, we’re unveiling a host of amazing changes that will take your campus dining experience to the next level. From fresh dining options to sustainability initiatives and fun events, we’ve got something for everyone!

Let’s dive into the top 10 updates to Mason Dining this fall:

#10: Additional Seating at Southside
Enjoy 150+ new seats at the Southside Dining Hall, designed for greater comfort and community vibes while you savor your meals. The new seating area promises a more enjoyable and comfortable environment for everyone.

#9: Mason Square’s New Venue – Mason Square Café
Patriots on the Mason Square campus, get ready for a fresh look at the Mason Square Café! Indulge in made-to-order options and unwind with build-your-own salads and “We Proudly Serve Starbucks” beverages. Whether you’re studying or on the go, this café will become your new hangout spot!

#8: Beverages Galore
Quench your thirst in style with our revamped beverage stations! Choose from an impressive array of beloved favorites and new intriguing flavors. Plus, we’re excited to introduce the Tractor Beverage Co., offering certified organic beverages. But it doesn’t stop there; Cocovibe’s low-sugar, low-sodium, high-potassium electrolyte drinks, made with only two ingredients: organic coconut water and organic fruit, are another great addition to the beverage line. And for coffee lovers, we’ve upgraded our machines to brew over 30 beverages, including hot cocoa and iced coffee. Sip, savor, and enjoy the world of flavors!

#7: Gold Rush is Now Simple Zone & Simple Servings Goes Sesame-Free + Halal Options!
Say hello to Simple Zone, your allergen-free pantry at Gold Rush (Gold Rush has been renamed to Simple Zone)! Enjoy meals free from gluten, tree nuts, and peanuts. And if you’re sensitive to sesame, don’t worry; Simple Servings now includes sesame-free options! Plus, we’re making sure there are always Halal options available at Simple Servings. Delicious and inclusive, that’s the way we roll!

#6: Meet The Difference Baker, NuVegan, Sweet Vegan, and Crave!
Get ready for a culinary explosion with these exciting additions! The Difference Baker specializes in allergen-free delights. NuVegan, an all-soul food vegan restaurant, will satisfy both vegans and non-vegans alike. Sweet Vegan caters to your sweet tooth cravings. And for late-night munchies, Crave is your go-to spot! Time to explore a world of deliciousness!

#5: The Teaching Kitchen @ Mason
Calling all aspiring chefs! Join us in the Teaching Kitchen for interactive classes with culinary masters. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, we’ve got something to elevate your cooking skills. Follow @mason_dining on social media or check out the dining halls for details on this exciting new feature.

#4: Crop Share Anyone?
Support local growers and join our crop share program! Partnering with Potomac Vegetable Farms, we’re offering the freshest produce the area has to offer. From bell peppers to root vegetables, it’s a delicious way to support local agriculture and enjoy mouthwatering dishes!

#3: Hunger Games…Willy Wonka…Seafood Boil…Events You’ll Need to Attend!
Get ready for a magical dining experience with themed events like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a mouthwatering Seafood Boil, and more! There’s something happening every day in the dining centers. Follow our passport game and join the fun!

#2: We Want to Hear From You!
Have a favorite dish? A suggestion to share? Text TellSouthside or TellIkes to 82257 and let your voice be heard! We’re all ears for your feedback, opinions, and even your love for Willy Wonka!

#1: The Spot – The Place for Plant Powered Dining!
Plant lovers, rejoice! The Spot is the ultimate destination for plant-powered dining. With a fresh, colorful look and a brand-new menu, it’s a sustainable and delicious haven. Satisfy your fruit and vegetable curiosity with a range of tantalizing options. The Spot is open Monday to Friday from 11 am to 3 pm.

With these amazing changes in store, Mason Dining is all set to make your campus dining experience extraordinary! We can’t wait to welcome you and serve up some unforgettable culinary moments. See you at the dining halls!

 

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George Mason University brings Mason Mobile ID to iPhone, Apple Watch and Android Devices

Students, faculty, and staff at George Mason University can now add their Mason Mobile ID to Apple Wallet and use their iPhone, Apple Watch, or Android device to seamlessly and securely access residence halls, offices, dining locations, and other campus facilities, as well as make contactless purchases on campus. Over 7,500 card readers throughout Mason’s multiple campuses have been upgraded to help enable this convenient, secure solution.

“Mason has been working hard to get us to a place to offer the Mason Mobile ID, and we are excited to bring this technology to campus,” said Danny Anthes, Director of Technology Services. “The Mason Mobile ID will enable more convenient access to on-campus spaces and amenities, as well as provide added security for students and staff.”

With Mason Mobile IDs, students can complete any action that would have previously required a physical ID card — both on and off campus — with just their iPhone, Apple Watch, or Android devices. Students simply hold their device near a reader to gain access to campus facilities and resources such as transportation and the gym, entry to residence halls, and more.

“Keeping with innovation by transitioning to a secure mobile credential brings an enhanced, convenient experience to our students — all with the seamless technology they know and love! On a personal note, I’m looking forward to using my Apple Watch for entry into the office,” said Laura Callahan, Director of the Mason Card Office.

iPhone and Apple Watch users who enable Express Mode do not need to unlock or even wake up their device to use their Mason Mobile ID in Apple Wallet – they can simply tap and enter. If an iPhone needs to be charged, students can still use their device to access campus areas with automatic Power Reserve.

The move from physical cards to Mason Mobile ID on iPhone, Apple Watch, or Android device allows for transactions that are safe, convenient, and secure, and helps students avoid handing their ID cards to someone else. Mason can also issue school IDs remotely without the need for students to request an Mason Mobile ID in-person, eliminating the need to print and mail physical cards and creating a safer, more cost-effective, and more environmentally friendly process.

“The new Mason Mobile ID program is a welcome advancement to my student experience at Mason,” stated junior, Zayd Hamid. “Speaking as someone who has frequented Piedmont Desk and the Card Office this semester for physical cards, this development is sure to bring down some of my replacement card costs that my friends and I always end up wracking up. Mason Mobile ID makes it easy and convenient for me to get around campus, and I’m grateful for OBS’ efforts to make this step forward to provide an accessible student ID option for the Mason student body.”

Mason is one of the first universities in Virginia to implement a Mason Mobile ID that can be seamlessly added to an Apple Wallet.

“The Mason Mobile ID will significantly enhance on-campus life by providing additional security and convenience to our Mason community,” said Patrick McCavitt, Interim Vice President of Operations and Business Services. “This initiative aligns with the university’s commitment to sustainability and innovation, and we are very excited to roll this out.”

Mason Mobile ID on iPhone and Apple Watch – Secure and Private

Mason Mobile ID on iPhone and Apple Watch take full advantage of the privacy and security built into iPhone and Apple Watch. If a student misplaces their iPhone or Apple Watch, they can use the Find My app to immediately lock their device and help locate it. Apple will not know when or where students are using their Mason Mobile ID on iPhone and Apple Watch, including locations accessed, what they buy with it, where they buy it, or how much they paid. Transaction history is never stored on Apple servers.

Operations and Business Services (OBS) is excited to bring this upgrade to the Mason community. For step-by-step instructions on how to enroll for your Mason Mobile ID, FAQs, or to learn more about the Mason Mobile ID program, visit: masonid.gmu.edu.

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George Mason University Makes History with The Difference Baker: Unveiling the Nation’s First Certified Allergy-Friendly Retail Location on a College Campus

George Mason University (Mason) is thrilled to announce a momentous collaboration with The Difference Baker, marking a historic milestone in campus dining. The Difference Baker will be the first retail location on a college campus in the nation to offer a truly allergy-friendly experience, surpassing all expectations with its unparalleled dedication to allergen inclusivity. This innovative dining concept will be entirely free from seven of the top nine allergens, including fish, shellfish, soy, and sesame, setting a new standard for campus dining and catering to the diverse needs of its student community.

MenuTrinfo, a dedicated company providing allergen and nutritional information, as well as employee training and certification, applauds this progressive initiative in ensuring safe food service for the community. “Understanding clearly how to serve safe food in an independent retail store was a win for the food allergy community,” said Betsy Craig, President and CEO of MenuTrinfo. Craig went on to commend The Difference Baker for being an early adopter of the Certified Free From™️ accreditation. “Adding this to a wonderful campus dining service like George Mason University is truly groundbreaking and forward-thinking for the community,” Craig said.

 

 

The Difference Baker has a proven commitment to catering to various dietary requirements, and its new location on George Mason’s campus will be its second. Situated in the Nguyen Engineering Building, this new allergen-friendly retail concept represents an exciting partnership between George Mason University and The Difference Baker, driven by a shared vision of promoting inclusivity, innovation, and supporting the well-being of all Mason students.

“We could not be more honored to partner with the Mason Dining/Sodexo team at George Mason University,” said the owner of The Difference Baker, Alyssa Sobecki. “It is truly a dream come true. We are so excited to spread our love through allergen-friendly and safe food for those that can’t live without it!”

While some universities have introduced allergen-friendly initiatives, George Mason University’s commitment to excellence goes beyond, making it the first of its kind in the nation to offer this level of allergen inclusivity.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with The Difference Baker in pioneering this groundbreaking allergen-friendly retail concept,” stated Pascal Petter, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services at George Mason University. “Our goal is to provide a truly safe, innovative, and inclusive dining experience for all students. We recognize the significance of catering to a wide range of dietary needs and are proud to lead the way in this aspect of campus dining.”

Mason Dining/Sodexo has always strived to provide the highest quality dining experiences for their diverse community. The addition of The Difference Baker’s certified allergen-friendly retail concept reaffirms a commitment to excellence, well-being, and inclusivity. Mason believes that this innovative collaboration will elevate the campus dining experience and solidify the university’s position as a national leader in accommodating students with dietary restrictions.

The grand opening of The Difference Baker’s second location at Mason is an extraordinary milestone, symbolizing a landmark achievement in campus dining nationwide.

“We are delighted to embark on this historic journey alongside The Difference Baker, a shining example of our commitment to providing an unparalleled dining experience at George Mason University,” said Sodexo’s Vice President of Operations, John Teeple. “Sodexo takes immense pride in fostering innovation and inclusivity in campus dining, and this trailblazing collaboration reinforces our dedication to meeting the diverse needs of our student community.”

The introduction of this unprecedented allergen-friendly retail concept sets a new benchmark for other universities to follow and underscores a dedication to fostering an inclusive environment where every student can thrive.

For more information about George Mason University’s commitment to allergen-friendly dining and The Difference Baker’s certified menu, please visit dining.gmu.edu.

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George Mason University Launches Virtual Parking Permit Program

George Mason University Parking and Transportation is excited to announce the launch of its new Virtual Parking Permit program, set to take effect this fall. This innovative and sustainable program will revolutionize the way parking permits are issued and utilized on campus, with the goal of streamlining the parking process for students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

With Virtual Parking Permits, the permit holder’s license plate will serve as their permit, eliminating the need for physical hang tags. This means that every parking permit holder will be required to update their automobile and license plate information in their parking portal to avoid receiving a ticket.

“We are thrilled to launch this new program that will benefit our entire community,” said Josh Cantor, Director of Parking and Transportation. “It’s a simple and convenient way to manage parking on campus, and we’re excited to see the positive impact it will have.”

Switching to a virtual parking permit program will greatly reduce waste and contribute to the university’s ongoing commitment to sustainability.

“This new program is an exciting development for our university,” said Patrick McCavitt, Interim Vice President of Operations and Business Services. “It will greatly improve the parking experience for our students, faculty, and staff while also reducing our environmental impact and cutting costs.”

The Virtual Parking Permit program is just one of the many ways that George Mason University is working to enhance sustainability and innovation on campus. By embracing cutting-edge technology and streamlined processes, the university is poised to continue to lead the way in higher education. Additionally, Parking Services will be using hybrid/electric vehicles for enforcement, leading the way toward the University’s commitment to sustainability through electrification of its fleet.

“The new virtual parking permit program at George Mason University is a true testament to the power of innovation, making the entire process of parking on campus incredibly easy and sustainable,” said student, Moses Hunsaker. “We are excited for a seamless digital solution that’s kinder to the environment.”

For more information on the Virtual Parking Permit program and some initial FAQs, please visit parking.gmu.edu. Check back later this summer for more detailed information on the program.

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Mason Spring 2023 Dining Updates

This spring semester brings a lot of exciting changes and updates to Mason’s dining program. Mason Dining is excited to announce the official opening of The Halal Guys and FLIP Kitchen, both in the Johnson Center, enhanced dining experiences at Starbucks locations and Einstein Bros. Bagels, along with the introduction of Kosher menu items at Southside dining hall.

The Halal Guys journey started in 1990 in New York City, where the orginal founders started selling “American Halal Food” to Muslim taxi drivers via a hot dog cart. Today, the company operates in 17 states and at five international locations. The Halal Guys menu includes various platters; such as beef gyro, chicken, and falafel, as well as sandwiches and desserts.

FLIP Kitchen is Freshëns latest fast-casual restaurant, that offers a dynamic menu that consistently “flips” into multiple pop-up food platforms such as; noodle bowls, pasta bakes, “crunchadillas”, and artisan melts. These “flip” menu items are offered in addition to the standard menu that consists of; global rice bowls, flatbreads, salads, smoothies, and acai bowls.

 

The Starbucks location in Northern Neck will offer Nitro Cold Brew, and both Starbucks locations (Northern Neck and Johnson Center) will integrate the Starbucks Connect App to include mobile ordering and redeeming Starbucks rewards, both of which were not previously available.

Einstein Bros. Bagel, in the lower level of Merten Hall, has also undergone a renovation during the break. Einstein’s will re-open this semester with a fresh look, new furniture, an enhanced self-serve coffee station, and newly installed digital menu screens for easier visibility.

A collaborative partnership between the Chabad at George Mason University, Mason Hillel, Char Bar restaurant, Sodexo, and Operations & Business Services (OBS), will lead to introduction of Kosher food at the Southside dining hall at the start of the spring semester. The “Mason Mensch” Kosher food cart will offer a rotating menu of Kosher meals to students from 6 pm-8 pm, Sunday – Thursday, all under the strict supervision of a Mashgiach – an expert Kosher supervisor.

“We are excited to begin the semester with these new and improved dining options,” said Pascal Petter, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services – OBS. “We know these updates and enhancements to our program will help create a better and more inclusive dining experience for the Mason community.”

The Halal Guys, FLIP Kitchen, Einstein’s, Starbucks, and the “Mason Mensch” will all be ready to serve students, faculty and staff at the start of the spring semester.

 

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Mason Dining Launches Kosher Program at Southside Dining Hall

Mason Dining has worked closely with Mason Hillel and the Chabad at GMU to provide students and faculty/staff with an eclectic mix of Kosher cuisine that will be served at Southside, enabling Jewish students to easily follow Kosher dietary rules. Rabbi Daniel Novick from Mason Hillel said his team is so grateful to their colleagues at Mason and Chabad at GMU for years of partnership to get us to this point.

“We are not only excited about what this means for our Jewish community now, but how this will help our efforts to make George Mason University an attractive destination for Jewish students for years to come.”

Pictured (l. to r.) are Rabbi Ezra and Bracha (Meisel) Wiemer and Michael Chelst.

The station, known as Mason Mensch, will launch on Monday, January 23, as students return for the spring semester and serve Kosher dinners from 6 pm – 8 pm, Sunday-Thursday on a first-come, first-served basis. The station will be located in between desserts and Simple Servings.

Rabbi Ezra Wiemer, Co-director of Chabad at GMU

“We are thankful to the Mason administration for their true commitment to inclusion,” said Rabbi Ezra Wiemer, co-director of Chabad at GMU. “There’s a Jewish expression, ‘may we go from strength to strength!’ This is a huge milestone for the Jewish community, and we know that together with Mason Hillel, our community will continue to grow and strengthen.”

Char Bar, a well-known Kosher establishment in downtown D.C., will be providing a selection of brisket tacos, hot honey chicken, burgers, kabobs, sandwiches, and more. Production and service will be overseen by a Mashgiach – an expert Kosher supervisor – to ensure the highest standards of Kosher are followed. Char Bar’s owner, Michael Chelst, said he’s honored to be part of the inaugural Kosher food program at George Mason. “The university’s commitment to inclusion for everyone is a blessing for the Jewish community,” Chelst said.

“Kosher food is part of our tradition and how we live our lives,” said senior Emma Sameth, a Global Affairs major. “It’s a commandment from the Torah, it makes us feel proud to be Jewish, and more connected to who we are,” Sameth stated.

This addition to the dining program has been in the works for years and aligns with the University’s overall mission of inclusion. Mason Dining is thrilled to be able to bring the Mason community food that are both delicious and respectful of Kosher rules. “We are very excited to bring this innovative and inclusive concept to fruition at Mason,” shared Pascal Petter, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services. “With such a diverse campus and requests for foods that fit into a Kosher lifestyle, we know that Char Bar’s Kosher selections will be a great addition to Mason’s dining line-up.”

Joel Hirsch, Sodexo’s Executive Chef at Southside also noted that he is excited to be able to offer Kosher meals for Mason’s students with dietary requirements. “I look forward to rapid growth of the Kosher program,” Hirsch said, “to be able to offer [this program] not only to Mason students, but also the Fairfax community as a whole in the future.”

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Mason Fall 2022 Dining Revamp

Operations and Business Services (OBS) is excited to announce several innovative changes to dining options for the fall. Working with Mason Dining to complete a series of renovations to dining and student life facilities this summer, the changes include three new dining concepts, expanding grab-and-go options, electric food carts, and more. Renovations are slated to be completed by the beginning of the 2022 fall semester.

Halal Guys has recently signed on to be the newest dining option in the Johnson Center (JC), taking over the space previously occupied by Garbanzo. Also in the JC, Freshens will be moving to the old Apple Federal Credit Union space and will reopen this fall as their new concept, “FLIP Kitchen,” offering a rotating menu of healthy wraps, salads, bowls, smoothies, and so much more.

Express in the JC is also getting a makeover that will expand to take over the previous smoothie counter operated by Freshens to include more shelving for convenience store items, prepared foods, sushi, grab-and-go items, drinks, and a coffee station. Enhancements to the space will lead to better overall shopping experience for students.

One of the most exciting new additions to campus will be two electric vehicle “Godegas” that will sell quick-service meals, snacks, grab-and-go items, and drinks at different locations around campus. OBS has worked closely with Mason Dining to bring these new, innovative vehicles to campus and is excited to share them with the Mason community. These vehicles will move around the campus on different days and times. Look for one near your location on campus!

Spice Kitchen is another new concept that will replace Wing Zone in The HUB. Spice Kitchen promises Indian fusion dishes, Halal options, and eclectic flavors of chicken wings, fries and other traditional late-night fare.

And lastly – you’ve been waiting for it! – Argo Tea will reopen this fall for the first time since closing during the pandemic, offering an expansive new menu featuring classic teas, seasonal drinks, “teappuccinos” and bubble teas.


“These changes and renovations are aimed to create a better dining experience for students and the Mason community,” said Pascal Petter, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services. “We are especially excited about the electric vehicles which will support our mission of developing innovative dining solutions, while at the same time focusing on sustainability.”

These enhancements to Mason’s dining programs will foster a community that supports learning and growth in all areas of student life. Stop by all the new concepts and try out the food options!