Ambling through the drab playground of food buffets and tables in cavernous Centennial Hall dining service on Friday, students filled their trays, strolled to tables, picked at their wobbly portions and complained about the gourmet fare.
“We’ve lowered our standards since we’ve gotten here,” said freshman biology major Nikki Kummer, while picking at a plate of limp greens.
“It could be better,” added her friend Tracy Menke, a College of Liberal Arts freshman.
Each bite of food is often accompanied by howls of protest from many residents of on-campus housing. Many students said the high grease content of the food and the unrecognizability of several casseroles make them wary of punishing their digestive systems with Aramark’s offerings.
Food service employees offer several explanations for this kind of behavior.
“It’s crap,” said Ben Hoppe, a student employee and senior in astrophysics. “Basically, they load everything with fat.”
Hoppe said the presence of off-beat selections, with such ingredients as eggplant and cous cous, evoke hostility in the starving students.
Ever since Aramark took over University Food Services last winter, promises of quality and product innovation abounded in the various dining facilities on campus.
According to Aramark’s guiding principles, “Because we value our relationships, we treat customers as long-term partners, and each other with candor and respect. … And because we’re Aramark, we do everything with integrity.”
Yet these guarantees are not good enough for students dining on the delectable feasts Aramark offers them. Many students said they could cook better food for themselves with the money they spend on a meal plan.
“If we were home, we wouldn’t eat this,” said Yasamin Gharib, a freshman premed student. “I’d eat a lot healthier — nothing drowned in cheese.”
Other students commented on the unrecognizability of the food. Matt Medina, a freshman psychology major, said food available in homeless shelters is more attractive than what is available at the University.
“This looks like a biology research project,” Medina said, poking at a rubbery mound of Jell-O.
Medina and others also complained about the lethargy that accompanies them out of the cafeteria after every meal.
“I’m comatose,” Medina said. “I’m still hungry, lacking in energy and angry.”
Though food service employees had no definitive answer to the students’ complaints, Hoppe offered them a piece of advice.
“Get out of the dorms and don’t bitch at the workers,” Hoppe said. “I don’t care. I can’t do anything about it. It gets old. Treat me with respect.”