Address: 36 Lenoir Dr, Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Lenoir Dining Hall is located right next to the Pit, the cultural and geographic center of UNC’s beautiful 729 acre campus. Lenoir is open on weekdays from 7 AM to 8:30 PM. It is located closest to most of the academic buildings on campus, so it is used by almost every student that has a meal plan during lunch hours. As a result, Lenoir tends to get very busy throughout the day, especially at times when classes let out, so if you’re in a hurry avoid Lenoir at these times. However, if you enjoy meeting new people or the hustle and bustle of a busy area, these are the time to go! The best part about the dining halls is a meal plan. If you have a meal plan you’ve already paid for all of your meals and many of your friends probably have one as well, so don’t let them go to waste! On the other hand, if you don’t have a meal plan the price for getting into Lenoir can be pretty steep, about $12. Above is a picture taken of Lenoir Dining Hall, one of the most important social centers on UNC’s campus, taken basically at random. The purpose of this picture is to show what Lenoir looks like at any given point in time. As you can see, Lenoir is a busy and bustling social center of campus, but it is also one of the main social centers on campus. As a result, careful study of Lenoir brings to light many interesting facets about UNC’s campus culture.
Origins of Lenoir
Construction of Lenoir Dining Hall was completed in 1939, and its doors first opened to students in 1940, but the story of Lenoir and its importance really begins almost 150 years previously with the building of Steward’s Hall. In 1793, the founders of UNC commissioned Steward’s Hall to be built. It was created to serve as the primary social center of campus. A place where students could meet, socialize, and take meals. Such a place was so important to the founders of the university that Steward’s Hall was one of the first buildings to be built on campus (only housing went up first), and was completed in time for the opening of the university in 1795. Following the opening of the university, students were quick to criticize the food served at Steward’s Hall, and the mismanagement of it was one of the deciding factors that lead to the student uprising of 1799, in which the steward’s house was stoned. Steward’s Hall was so important, and so central to student life on campus, that its mismanagement lead to students revolting and stoning someone’s house. Lenoir is the current equivalent to Steward’s Hall, and it is just as important to student life today as Steward’s Hall was in the early 18 hundreds.
Food For Thought
The Southern University
Aside from just the story of its establishment, Lenoir Dining Hall tells another important story about the history of UNC. It is shockingly uncommon to visit Lenoir and not see some sort of “southern food” being served. On a regular basis one will find foods ranging from pulled pork to baked beans to collard greens. These are foods that would never be found in large swaths of the country, and yet here in Chapel Hill they are a common occurrence. This is a direct result of the people who attend the University and where they come from. Over 80 % of students at UNC are from the state of North Carolina and in the end the role of the dining hall is to make the students happy (“Class Profile” 1). It should be no surprise, therefore, that the dining hall will serve foods that are familiar to students to make a new and scary place feel a little more like home. Lenoir in a very real sense is a reflection of the campus attitudes as a whole, and this doesn’t only apply to food preferences. It also applies to the collective principles UNC upholds.
The purpose of Lenoir Dining Hall is to provide the students at UNC what they want, not only to eat on a daily basis, but also as a cultural center of campus. As a result, Lenoir reflects many of the ideals UNC’s student body shares. Two of these ideals are sustainability and diversity. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill prides itself on being a diverse campus. In fact, the university has even enshrined this into its mission statement, “[…] to teach a diverse community of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to become the next generation of leaders” (“Mission – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill”, 1). This belief can also be found in the food that is offered at Lenoir Dining Hall. Lenoir Dining Hall offers an assortment of food options to fulfill the diverse needs of the UNC student body. These options include a vegan line that is open all day for vegetarian and vegan students and gluten free meals for students that have gluten allergies. They also serve foods for people who are trying to watch their weight and avoid the dreaded “freshman fifteen”. Below is shown one of their main initiatives, a fully stocked salad bar. On top of this, Lenoir Dining Hall also offers an “international flavor” every meal. This promise to offer something from different cultures around the world is indicative of UNC’s promise of diversity.
Sustainability is the second of the two promises Carolina Dining Services, the organization in charge of Lenoir Dining Hall, makes to UNC’s students. As part of their sustainability initiative, Carolina Dining Services,
CDS, makes an effort to only buy food that was grown using sustainable practices, including organic, humane, grass-fed, and vegan foods. This initiative not only includes how the food was grown, but also includes were the food was grown. CDS makes an effort to buy as much food locally as possible, and according to their 2015 Sustainability Report, about twenty-five percent of the food CDS served was grown within 250 miles of UNC (“Sustainability – Carolina Dining Services”, 1). Their push to purchase local grown food is supposed to help support the local economy and increase the number of smaller farmers. Below is a drawn representation of an advertisement that hangs on the bottom of Lenoir. This advertisement clearly shows Lenoir’s dedication to sustainability and locality in their food.
Much of what makes one’s college experience so unique and rewarding, especially at a place like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, are the people one surrounds themselves with. College is one of the few places where someone will be surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have completely different backgrounds, interests, and skills than they do. This meshing of thousands of skilled people with different backgrounds and interests is what leads to much of the innovation, learning, and growth that occurs at college. In his perennial paper on racial integration of schools, Astin went so far as to say, “Much of the benefit associated with attending a racially diverse institution is achieved through interaction with a culturally different other” (qtd. in Antonio 2). One of a colleges most important missions, therefore, must be to foster an environment where students, and to a lesser extent faculty, are constantly interacting with each other. Careful study of the table design at Lenoir will support this claim. As seen in Figure 3, almost all of the tables in Lenoir are situated in a manner that will lead to students sitting in close proximity and/or across from each other. Psychological studies performed by Mehrabian and Diamond have shown that these types of seating arrangements will lead to more interaction between people sitting at the table (Mehrabian & Diamond, 1971, pg. 3). To this end UNC has been successful. Due in no small part to the due diligence UNC put into the layout and design of Lenoir, Lenoir has become a social and cultural center of UNC’s campus.
“Class Profile.” UNC Admissions. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
“Mission – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.” The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.
“Sustainability – Carolina Dining Services.” Sustainability – Carolina Dining Services. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.