By Nur-Taz Rahman
Laverne Fender ran out of fingers to count as she enumerated the dining hall changes. “There are the new cereal and milk dispensers, the ice-cream freezer, pizza station, chips and salads with wraps, flavored water, three daily desserts, an additional hot-line entree, display cooking, the bread station, and new arrangements in the salad bar.” I am going to add a few more, such as the waffle-mix dispenser, the toaster, the condiments dispenser, the salad seasonings, etc.
So how has the student body responded to these changes? Ms. Fender says that there was no sudden boom in student appreciation, but there has been a gradual increase in students’ use of the dining hall services. “More faculty and staff are also coming to the dining hall,” Ms. Fender notes. Many students have expressed their appreciation on feedback notes pinned to the cafeteria board.
However, as voiced at Student Government Association (SGA) meetings, weekend services at the dining hall are not up to the mark. Ms. Fender immediately made a note on her writing pad to look into the matter, although she points out that during weekends the dining hall operates with a smaller staff. “Ideally it should not make a noticeable difference,” she points out. I pointed out another common complaint: the recycling of food. Again, Ms. Fender promised to look into the matter, and assured me that recycling of food is not allowed.
As a Purple Knight, I have missed making omelets from fresh eggs during weekends since my sophomore year. Why has that arrangement fallen through? According to Ms. Fender, it is due to changes in the food regulations. Fresh eggs are no longer considered safe except for in baking, and the only eggs that can be used are those that have been homogenized and then irradiated to kill E. coli bacteria. Currently, that is the kind of egg the cafeteria uses to make scrambled eggs and other egg-based dishes. Is there any chance that students would be able to make their own omelets again?
That seems a little doubtful, although Ms. Fender would not mind putting out the griddles and the homogenized egg for the students. “However, then the students have to assume responsibilities. They have to make sure that once they have poured out the egg mixture from the container, the container is back into the ice like it should be. Otherwise, the students who use it a little later may fall ill because the container was not kept in the cold.”
On the same note, Ms. Fender would like students to understand that while the dining hall is there to serve the students with food, they are not the students’ servers. Bottom line, the students should become a little more responsible. They should pick up food or silverware they have dropped to the floor and take them to the trash or washer as appropriate. One particular thing we can all change, sending juice down the juice machine slots. After pouring juice or drinks at the bottom of the fountain machines, we should run water for just three seconds. Otherwise the thrown away juice attracts fruit flies, which is a health issue.
Ms. Fender is excited about introducing new changes in the dining hall for the students. She welcomes feedback, and promises to keep any requests that fall within the limits of reason. “I offer chicken nuggets every weekend so that students who like can have them, and students who don’t like them don’t get them,” she states. While she tries to accommodate requests as much as possible, she expects students to be responsible about their use of the dining hall services.