Bagels from Tandem Bagel Company returned to Valentine Dining Hall on Oct. 1 for the first time this school year to the excitement of many students.
A weekend staple at Val since 2022, bagels from the Western Massachusetts-based chain were nowhere to be found this year as the dining hall transitioned to One Mighty Mill Bagels as its main supplier this fall. The change to the new bakery, which uses locally-sourced, whole grain flour, was an effort to provide healthier and more sustainably produced products, said Joe Flueckiger, head of dining services.
Tandem bagels will now only be available on the first Sunday of each month rather than every Saturday and Sunday, said Anna Piergentili, manager of dining hall operations.
For many students on campus, Tandem bagels were something to look forward to on the weekends. In interviews, students noted that they were of higher quality than the bagels that Val usually serves, and students were delighted to finally see them in the dining hall for the first time this semester.
For some students, like Brett Donshik ’25, Tandem bagels even became a tradition — something to look forward to on the weekends.
“The Tandem bagels were a big part of our weekend mornings,” Donshik said. “My friend and I would always go and get our Tandem bagels and do the Sunday crossword together.”
Donshik assumed the bagels would be back every weekend, so it came as a surprise to learn that Tandem bagels were only going to be served on the first Sunday of the month.
“Everyone likes the Tandem bagels,” he said, adding that his weekend experiences had not been the same since the switch to One Mighty Mill bagels. One Mighty Mill is a Lynn, Mass.-based bakery that locally sources all of its ingredients and processes them with its own stone mill.
The decision has to do with the dining hall’s overarching goals rather than recent budget cuts, Flueckiger said. He explained that the One Mighty Mill product is more in line with the dining hall’s commitment to health, sustainability, and local products. Flueckiger also said that the One Mighty Mill bagels are healthier than both types of bagels Val previously served, including the Tandem bagels it served on weekends.
While the decision might be sustainable on paper, some students, like Sandor Weiss ’25, suggested that the switch could be more wasteful in practice if students don’t want to eat the new product.
Piergentili, however, said that students are routinely eating all of the bagels Val serves. And, while Flueckiger acknowledged that the flavor profile and experience of the Tandem bagels is “superior,” he believes that the transition to One Mighty Mill is the responsible decision, given the impact that Val has as part of a large food system.
“We believe that we owe it to the students and to the campus community to take initiatives like this very seriously,” Flueckiger said.
The push for more sustainably sourced bagels comes amid the dining hall’s recent move to try to limit students’ use of single use cups and encourage the use of reusable cups in Val.
Students hoping to once again see Tandem bagels in Val every weekend will have to wait. Piergentelli said that the dining hall would continue to feature them once a month for the foreseeable future, except for special events or other rare occasions.
Although Flueckiger recognizes that the dining hall sometimes has to make tough decisions, he emphasized that the meal plan is designed for the students. “We want the menu items to reflect what the students want,” he added. “And so we have taken deliberate steps in order to continue to craft a menu that is more desirable to the student body.”