The new dining hall can seat up to 450 people. Students can choose to sit at the bar-like area, att ables or on the new benches.

The new dining hall can seat up to 450 people. Students can choose to sit at the bar-like area, at tables or on the new benches. Photo: Provided.

Convocation dining hall is the second dining hall on Wits campus that recently underwent a face-lift.

The dining hall has been refurbished in a more contemporary style with views of the surrounding grounds, and a wider variety of food.

After the final refurbishments have been completed, the renovations will amount to approximately R5,6 million of which half was funded by the South African government and the other half by Wits alumni. Catering provider RoyalMnandi invested a R1 million in equipment for the facility.

Part of having a good education is not only having excellent lecturers, lecturing facilities and good accommodation, but also having access to excellent catering facilities and extramural facilities, said Professor Tawana Kupe, deputy vice-chancellor of finance and operations, during the official opening of the hall.

“You can’t be an excellent student if you are not in good health. And you can’t be in good health if you don’t have a good nutrition. And you can’t have good nutrition in a terrible facility where you are looking at the back of a dilapidated building.”

Kupe said the refurbished dining hall is the kind of standard the university wants, with a nice, open environment, good architecture and good nutrition.

“What you eat and what you see is bon appetit.”

Director of Services, Theresa Main said the aim of the Wits service department is to create an “eat safe campus” and to ensure that a safe eating environment is monitored.

“We are enhancing the dining environment and simultaneously enhancing the food variety.”

The menu items at the dining hall now include pizzas, pastas, stirfry’s and a chicken rotisserie. The hall currently has a seating capacity of 450, but outdoor wooden decks will be built next to the hall to accommodate another 50 seats.

Free wi-fi has been installed and soon, big TV screens for students to watch what they please will follow said Joanne Rowan, deputy director of catering and retail. Students can also take their music and ask for it to be played in the hall.

Rowan said the dining hall has never had a food scare and emphasised that the standards in the dining halls are the same.

Rowan said  she has received positive feedback from the students. “They enjoy the dining hall. They actually spend time sitting here. It’s inviting. Students can socialize with each other.”

Rowan said she hoped that the hall would be used for future student events. “I think it will become a popular place.”

Carl Msiza (BComm Honours in Development Economics), eats at the Convocation dining hall twice a day. Msiza said the new dining hall is “definitely better” than the main dining hall.

“It’s got an ambience.” When asked about the food he said: “ It’s better than most Royal Mnandi dining halls and the staff are extremely friendly.”

Vice chairperson of the David Webster Residence, Innocentia Kgaphola is happy with the change in food variety and said students are more social in the dining hall.

But she said some students believe the standards are not the same and have voiced concerns over the pricing.

“I still believe there’s always room for improvement.”