You walk into Marketplace for lunch and turn to look at what the College of William and Mary’s Dining Services is serving today at the entree box. It’s Asian food: a choice of fried rice, plain rice or lo mein, with the protein options of chicken, beef or tofu. You can also pay extra for steak as a premium protein. It comes with vegetables and an egg roll. Not bad, you think, and you choose your meal.
Later that night, for dinner, you return and again check the entree box, to see what’s new. It’s the same thing. Hmm. You decide to eat a sandwich, instead. You return the next day, and then the next. It’s still the same meal. You get the idea.
New this semester, Marketplace has changed its normal set up. Usually, areas like salads, hot sandwiches, the grill, etc. remain the same, with the entree box as the only food option that changes for each meal. Now, the only rotating option is not exactly rotating anymore. Each meal option will stay for a few weeks at a time, for both lunch and dinner, until the next meal comes around.
Of course, this is not the end of the world. There are many other food options within Marketplace itself, and there are also two other dining halls on campus that follow a typical dining hall set-up. There are certainly some positives to this change. First, if the current meal option looks really appetizing but you don’t have time to wait in line, you don’t have to be disappointed that you missed your favorite meal. You can just get it later. Also, if there are multiple options for proteins, you can always cycle through each one and make a slightly different meal each time. Or maybe, if you really enjoy the meal, you can get it every day.
However, there are several negatives to this new set up. Most obviously, no one likes to eat the same thing every day for lunch and then again for dinner. There are other options at Marketplace, but the hot window always makes the most balanced and complete meal. Also, if there is a meal that a person either does not like or cannot eat due to dietary restrictions, they have to wait almost a month for a new option.
I am also slightly concerned about the freshness of the entree box. Other areas that always serve the same food can easily freeze the products, like burgers and chicken, until they want to make them, whereas the entree box requires the meals to be fully made in advance and in larger quantities. Since the meal is repeated twice every day, I am a little worried about how long they will keep the leftovers that people do not eat.
I do not think that Dining Services would purposely serve something that is no longer healthy to eat, but I do think it should be a relevant point in the conversation of such a long-standing food choice. In this new system, it seems that there could a higher chance of serving spoiled food.
Personally, that area of Marketplace has always been my favorite because I am always excited to see what’s new there, and I feel like it adds some variety to a dining hall that otherwise always sells the same things. There is nothing wrong with consistency, but I prefer those other old, reliable options for when I am in a hurry or when I cannot decide what to eat. Now, the whole dining hall will basically serve the same food all of the time.
I am not trying to be dramatic or cause unnecessary concern, but these are just my initial thoughts that I feel deserve some attention.
As students, we always demand changes to the dining halls, and I wonder if this change is something that other students have asked for or if Dining Services chose this change in order to solve other issues: creating less waste, saving Dining Services’ money and making more profit. Is this the change we were looking for? It’s certainly food for thought.
Email Alyssa Slovin at firstname.lastname@example.org.