Fountain turns 40

Fountain dining hall, named after Dr. Alvin Marcus Fountain, opened in 1982, marking the beginning of NC State Dining’s history of serving students on campus. Since then, Fountain has continued to be a staple of campus as the University expands, improving its quality of food service and cultural connections.

For a time, Fountain was the sole dining hall on campus. Case and Clark, the two other dining halls on campus, had not yet been developed for use. Clark did not open for students until the late 90s and Case, up until recently, was limited to students living in certain residences and athletes.

“For a while it was really just Fountain,” said Jennifer Gilmore, the director of marketing and communication for Campus Enterprises and an alumni from the early 1980s. “If you wanted to know what the menu was, you’d call a telephone number and this lady would read off what was on the menu.”

Gilmore said, since her time as a student in the 80s, Fountain has done a lot of growing as NC State’s population has grown more diverse.

“We became a lot more sophisticated,” Gilmore said. “We have that big salad bar, the simply made station for students who have allergies, gluten-free options and a lot more consideration for students who eat kosher or halal.”

The level of food produced by Fountain has grown as well, with more specialized staff dedicated to the purpose. Keith Smith, director of board operations and sustainability at NC State Dining, said, in the beginning, Fountain had no dieticians, relying on outside firms to check their nutritional value. Today, NC State Dining has expanded its capabilities, bringing in its own dietician. 

“Back when we first opened, we didn’t really have any dieticians on campus or anything,” Smith said. “Today, we can go down to the ingredient level and actually identify allergens so people know that the food is really what it is.”

Beyond the enhanced dietary accommodations, Fountain has worked hard to expand its diverse palette. Crayton Garrell, manager of Fountain Dining Hall, said theme nights, general rotations in the types of food served and adjusting to input from the student body have been crucial to the success of Fountain today.

“Some years ago, we had a Brazilian night,” Garrell said. “So, we had students from Brazil, got recipes from them, and we imported any item we needed to. We didn’t Americanize their food.”

Moving forward, staff involved at the dining halls are excited to improve Fountain’s abilities as a cultural institution with transparent connections to the students. Gilmore said she’s most excited about the new text program that allows students to let staff know what complaints or concerns they have. 

“We’re really excited for the new text program for students,” Gilmore said. “Maybe the rice or the noodles didn’t get cooked right. If a student tells us, immediately we can literally pull that pan and replace it right away.”

Garrell said his goal is to bring a sense of community to Fountain. 

“We really want to bring back some cultural connections,” Garrell said. “We used to have casino nights and acoustic student performances. We really are like one family here.”

To learn more about what Fountain dining hall has to offer, check out the NC State Dining website

Focused Editor

I am a third-year studying American politics and minoring in history. I began writing opinion pieces for Technician in the summer of 2022 to provide commentary on political topics affecting the student body.

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