Over the past week, #occupycommons has become a trending topic in more places than just Twitter. While this protest has taken on various forms, students appear to have been so consumed by the take-out policy, that they forgot to mention their continuous anger towards the food options – or perceived lack thereof – that are accessible to them.According to the General Manager of Drew Dining Mark Vallero, the campus menu is set based on preference. “We make sure that what customers preferred last year, we continue. What is trendy, we introduce, and we try to include the feedback we get along the way as well.”
Additionally, the Food Court menu is decided based on “items that are proven to be the most popular amongst college students,” Vallero explained. “Aramark has a great deal of experience in serving college students: Pizza, deli, salad and grill are the typical concepts that students want available to them. The actual menu items we offer at each menu station are based on our brand standards for each concept.” While Vallero explained that overall the menus are developed according to Aramark’s knowledge of student preference, Samantha Calabrese (’13) begs to differ. “What happened to the real Spicy Chicken Wrap?” she asked.
Joshua Winarick (’13) agrees. “The Spicy Chicken Wrap was the one thing I actually looked forward to ordering at the Snack Bar. Now, it causes so much confusion to ask for the wrap and not the panini.”
While the changes that took place to the snack bar over the summer break caused a lot of negative buzz about campus, students seem even more angered by the changes that took place while away for winter break.
“I was finally getting adjusted to the old menu,” said Victoria Hinojosa (’13), “and now everything is different again. And it’s always difficult to ask for a substitution. My Snack Bar experience is always a bit frustrating.”
Vallero holds a different opinion. “Although we have set menus at each menu station, we are always open to customizing sandwiches and grill items.” He explains the seasonal change, saying, “The menu changed from fall to spring because [they] are testing out a new deli brand. Additionally, [they] learned that some sandwiches were not as popular as others, so [they] switched them out for newer sandwiches.”
While Vallero stated that, “[they] feel the menu options are sufficient for the amount of space and equipment that the dining services own,” it would appear students feel much differently.
“There definitely are not enough options available to us at the Snack Bar or the Commons,” Devon Stefanow (’13) said. “For my writing for social media class, I’m thinking about creating a blog that guides students on how to make Commons creations. Something needs to be done in order to improve our access to foods that actually appeal to us.”
Hillel President Julia Friedman (’13), expressed a desire for a kosher menu. Friedman, who recently had to fight her way out of the meal plan because of conflicts with her religion, explains that her current situation is inconvenient because, as she said, “I can’t eat at the Commons and I also don’t have access to a kitchen on campus. I’m often running late to class or scrounging for whatever food I have left over in the room. It’s added stress that could be avoided.”
Just as Friedman pointed out that there are not enough kosher options, many students who require gluten-free diets and other dietary provisions admit to finding it near impossible to eat on campus.“More people are fighting their way out of the meal plan this year than I ever remember,” Friedman said. “Many of my friends with diet restrictions feel trapped by the options that the Commons and Snack Bar offer. It’s honestly just not fair. They do not attempt to cater to our needs whatsoever.”