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Beloit Students Express Outrage Over Dining Options

Beloit students expressed their outrage this Tuesday during a scheduled meeting about this semester’s dining hall options regarding the quality of the food, limited options and mishandling of food.

Since the beginning of the fall 2021 semester, students have started voicing their concerns and opinions about Beloit’s dining options. The situation escalated to the point where two students, Natalie Dekker and Moon West organized a meeting to discuss with a larger group of students who shared similar concerns. 

Natalie Dekker, a junior was inspired to call a meeting addressing the issue after constantly hearing about people’s needs not being met,

For Dekker this was an ongoing issue that started last school year. Her frustration grew with dining options. “I felt like someone had to do something.” 

The discussion started with a Facebook post and grew from there. Some of the comments being that people’s dietary needs aren’t being met, lack of vegan/gluten-free options, mislabeling, cross contamination and the overall food quality.  

At Tuesday’s meeting in the Powerhouse, students with vegan dietary needs as well as international students explained to LEADS that the Commons dining hall is supposed to be providing rice every single day as a result of accommodations. The dining hall has not been consistent in providing these accommodations for students. 

Students with gluten sensitivity are encouraged to check the menu online. The options listed online are inconsistent resulting in students not being able to find anything to eat in the dining hall as well as wasting a meal swipe. 

There has also been a common animosity among students towards dining halls attempting diverse meals. A group of students admit that Bon Appetit has the ability to be creative when making diverse dishes but instead “drop the ball.” Based on these concerns most students would rather just have consistency in their meals. 

Dekker found the comments to be affirming and consistent with other comments she was hearing around campus. On top of the Facebook post, there was also a google form sent out for students to leave comments in case they were unable to make it to Tuesday’s meeting. 

The feedback received was “horrifying.” People were not only allowed to provide feedback but were also able to submit pictures of food they were unsatisfied with. Dekker goes into details about some of people’s concerns such as raw chicken, people becoming ill due to mislabeling, cross contamination and quality control. 

As the Round Table interviewed Dekker and heard common comments from students, it became apparent to see a pattern of dislike among Beloit’s dining options. 

Not only were students getting physically ill due to the food quality but students also showed concern over becoming mentally ill. Students admitted to falling back into unhealthy food habits because of the lack of food options. Students dealing with eating disorders rely on “safe foods” which the dining hall is not providing as there have also been complaints on the vegetables and fruits being served. Students complained that they have found mold on the lettuce as well as fruit tasting old and acidic. 

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Dekker and West had a scheduled meeting with Cecil Youngblood, Dean of Students, before hearing concerns from students. One of the first issues that Youngblood mentioned was the nationwide problem of unemployment. This led to further discussion of employees wages, benefits, and lack of student workers. Due to the ongoing pandemic there is a labor shortage, Youngblood said. Employees still don’t feel safe returning back to work.

We asked Dekker what some of the positive outlooks were as a result of the meetings. As a collective the students have provided a list of ideas and options that the dining halls can implement. Just some of the suggestions being:

  • bringing back the Panini Press. It’s a simple way to add more variety without adding more staff. 
  • More customization such as an omelette bar, pasta bar, wraps, and quesadillas
  • Consistent restocking of soy milk as it is vital for protein for students who can not get protein from other sources
  • Direct student surveys so students can voice what is and is not working
  • Consistent vegan options
  • Customizable option plans
  • Dividers to avoid cross contamination

 

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