Three local restaurants have set up kiosk outlets at the University of California-Merced at lunchtime to supplement the campus dining service. Bella Luna Italian Bakery & Café, J&R Tacos and Sam’s Café are taking turns serving patrons weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition, three carts branded as A Fork in the Road are purveying grab-and-go breakfast and lunch options at popular areas around campus, such as near the Social Sciences and Management Building and the Student Activities and Athletics Center.

The initiatives are designed not only to benefit the campus with additional dining options but also to build relationships with local businesses, says Dining Services Director Jason Souza.

“We recognize that the campus is growing faster than Dining Services can grow staff and space,” he explains. “This provides us with an opportunity to meet the increasing needs of the university while testing the concept of working with third-party vendors.”
Souza says his goal is to develop an RFP to gage whether other local eateries would be interested in similar partnerships with Dining Services.

The food vendors all accept student resident CatDollars and student, faculty and staff Flex plans.