By: Samantha Cooper
Food is perhaps one of the biggest issues for college students; Goucher College is no exception. The past year has been difficult for many students, as Heubeck and Pearlstone have been combined into one dining hall, and the Gopher Hole has disappeared all together. Students have taken most of their complaints about such things to social media, as opposed to Bon Appetit. This is why a feedback dinner was held, so that student could discuss their wants and needs for food at Goucher. The feedback dinner is held every year. But, this year’s dinner was different.
The survey was conducted by a group of students as opposed to Bon Appetit, itself. The students, John Nobriga, Coyote Erfourth, Abigail Bates and Noah Lieberman, handed out the survey as part of their BUS 329 class. The questions were created by Bon Appetit, and the group was given very little leeway in regards to any changes that were made to it. However, they were the ones convincing students to take the survey and advertising it were the students. The group put up posters, sent out e-mails and even tabled in order to let students know about the survey.
“We had a self-serving interest in what the students want as the college builds this building…But we can’t afford to miss the mark of getting a real clear understanding of what’s students want,” said Norman Zwagil, general manager of Bon Appetit at Goucher regarding the survey.
This tactic turned out to be very successful; they received 377 survey results. Last year’s survey only received 19 results in total.
The results from this year were spread fairly evenly among grade levels. It was revealed that 93.6% of students were on the meal plan. Out of those 53.8% were on the 190 meal plan, the next highest level was the 150-meal plan. Most students (68%) were satisfied with their with their meal plans.
Dietary restrictions are common among Goucher students: 31% of the responders said they were vegetarian or vegan, 27% said that they were lactose-intolerant and 18% were gluten-free. 75% of those people also said that they did not have an issue in getting food to fit their diet from the cafeterias.
This, though, does not mean Goucher students were wholly satisfied with their dining experience or that there were no changes to be made.
One thing that became apparent from the results, as well as the discussion afterwards, was that students wanted a greater variety of everything. Students particularly wanted more Asian, and Latin cuisine as well as American comfort food and breakfast all day. They were also worried about the hours that the cafeterias were open, as some felt it did not fit with their schedule and they had little or no time to eat. “We had a lot of variety of food over four years here and this year there is a less kind of variety because a whole dining hall has gone away,” said one student during the meeting who was not identified. At this point, many other students in the room nodded or agreed with the student.
Many of the upperclassmen expressed a desire for foods that were available during the younger years to be bought back; Joe’s Teas, Gopher Bars, and Alice’s breakfast sandwiches were among the products discussed.
The biggest topic of discussion from the night was certainly fruit. Students discussed the desire for a greater variety of hand fruits as typically only apples and oranges are available. Bananas, as it turns out, don’t always fit in with Bon Appetit’s environmental ethics. Bananas use the most carbon emissions out of any the food, due to the fact that they need to be flown in from other countries and cannot be grown locally. Due to that, the company does not buy them as often. Other fruits like apples, oranges, and berries are bought in season.
Students requested more berries to be available, and the company will look to bring in the fruit before the end of the semester. Another idea was a fruit bar, where students could get a variety of fruits at Heubeck for a set price as opposed to the plastic cups of cut-up or diced fruit.
Currently, Stimson closes at 8pm on weekdays and 7pm during the weekend and Heubeck is closed on the weekends which makes Alice’s the only place to get something quick on the weekends or to eat at all late at night. Zwagil offered for next semester to open Heubeck on Sundays for grab-and-go options, which seemed to appease students.
Many other issues were discussed as well, all of which were noted by the Bon Appetit staff.
No changes will be made this semester, though some different offerings may be bought to school in the next few weeks. Still, the Bon Appetit has an appointment with goucher’s Vice President of Finance to decide on the changes that will be made next semester within the next few weeks.
One thing that Bon Appetit had to say to the students was to stop stealing silverware and the like from Stimson. Originally, Stimson had 150 bowls for stir-fry; every single one of them has been stolen. Forks, knives and spoons are occasionally in low supply there as well, likely due to students taking them for themselves. An offer was put on the table to have boxes put out at the end of the semester where students could return these things without any questions asked and without punishment.
The other thing was Bon Appetit does hear about students complaints, but often not until hours or days after the fact, when students post their issues on social media. Rather, Zwagil said, if there something is missing from Stimson that is on the menu to talk to a staff member there to let them know of the issue. Similarly, these surveys and dinners are designed to gauge student opinion. If students do not answer, than they can’t make the changes.
It is not clear which of these changes will be made yet. But, for those you who will be on campus should be on the lookout for these changes in the coming year.