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EDITORIAL: Rethinking "The Caf Problem"

Recently, Harrington Place Dining has come under scrutiny once again by students for the quality of its food following a post from the Belmont Parents Facebook. 


The blades begin to whirl to life in the distance. 


The engines hum as helicopter parents take their flight to these groups with messages of how their precioius child will almost certainly become deathly ill from their lunch at the Caf. 


Yes, students are required to have a meal plan if they live on campus. 

Yes, parents can expect two to three square meals a day for their offspring. 

Yes, it should be properly cooked 


No, the chicken served last week was not raw, we checked. 


The 72 on a health and safety score was a wake-up call for many in the caf last semester and rightfully so.  


But is the quality of the food really the problem?  


The notorious 72 on the health inspection was not about food preparation, but almost exclusively about a faulty dishwasher. 


The Caf addressed the issues – paper plates and plastic forks abounded – until the dishwasher could be fixed. 


When it was reinspected, the Caf got a respectable 97. 


The problem never was the food. 


Students and parents are focused on the wrong thing, here. 


The Caf has never claimed to be anything that it’s not. It’s not a five-star Michelin quality meal. 


Instead it serves up a variety of meals to around 9,000 students a day. And most of those meals are properly cooked providing student with options for greens, proteins and of course Taco Tuesday. 


Where the discussion should flourish is in the lack of options for students with dietary restrictions. 


Sure, there’s a salad bar, a singular fridge for gluten-free students and a vegetarian bar. Sure they have a dietitian and will serve up any food that is asked of them. 


But students shouldn’t have to ask. 


They deserve at least the same diverse range of options as other students.  


The scale is simply leaning too much in favor of students with no dietary restrictions. 


No one is saying there needs to be a whole Caf for students with dietary concerns, but they do need a bigger slice of the pie. 


Sodexo or whoever run the Caf next semester, needs to tune out the whirring noise of helicopter parents and tune in to students with real concern. 


The loudest noise is not necessarily the right sound to listen to. 


This article was written by Braden Simmons 

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