Drew’s dining contract will be reviewed within the next year, as mentioned at the Student Government meeting on Feb. 8. This semester, there has been a significant increase in concern regarding dining services on campus. This critique on dining is in no way a critique of the faculty and staff that work in the dining facilities. They are nothing but welcoming and kind, and work with the resources they are given. This is a critique of Aramark and the standard of food that they serve.
The quality of Drew’s dining is no secret. For example, The Daily Meal, Rant Food and Medical Daily all include Drew University on their lists denoting colleges with the worst campus food. Many Drew students would also attest to this fact.
With the contract up for review, The Drew Acorn would like to call attention to several aspects of dining at Drew University that need to be addressed.
One of the most pressing concerns is general food safety. Numerous students have reported cases of food poisoning, especially this semester. If students have these encounters on campus, it automatically creates an aversion to Drew food, leaving them with little to no options for food on campus. And if it happens once, who is to say it will not happen again?
For students who do experience food poisoning, they should report it to Aramark via email within 24 hours of becoming sick and should indicate what they ate that day. Accurate and consistent reporting will only help ensure that the quality of food goes up, rather than down.
Another concern, this one being life-threatening, relates to the lack of labeling. Although this issue has been raised before, inconsistent labeling at the food stations persists. For students with allergies, this could lead to a trip to the hospital or even cost them their lives. Although the allergy-free station is a wonderful addition to The Commons, students with allergies would still like to eat other food that is being served. Not to mention, the lack of labeling also impacts students with dietary restrictions, including those for religious reasons.
Repetition is also a new trend at The Commons this semester. On multiple occasions, the same meal has been served for lunch and dinner three days in a row. Although it is important to note that we do not want to waste food, serving the same meal three days in a row to ensure it is not wasted is not a solution. Buying smaller quantities of a variety of foods will not only prevent waste, but it will also provide a wider array of choices, which many students also crave.
The same fruits and vegetables and three different locations serving rice are the opposite of variety. Monotony should be avoided. Although fruits are not always in season and can be costly, there should be more occasions where mandarin oranges, peaches, watermelon and strawberries, to name a few, make an appearance. The joy and excitement these bring to students is immeasurable, so why not try to have them year-round?
Some additional concerns include the fruit flies surrounding the soda machines, the onions in the cannoli cream for crepes on the weekends, a lack of dining options for students with sensitive stomachs, the lack of milk for cereal in the EC and the removal of the sandwich station from the EC.
As we move forward into the next contract, Drew’s administration should keep all of these grievances in mind. The way that The Commons and EC are currently running is unsustainable. The poor quality of food and lack of options cause food poisoning and general apathy among students when it comes to eating. Food is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle, and without healthy options, how can students obtain the energy they need for class? This is not a matter of complaining; rather, this is a matter of genuine concern for what students will be able to eat on campus. If things continue in this way, students will stop eating on campus entirely, which poses a financial threat to Drew.