Easter Dinner Gathers Mixed Feelings

Drew Kaplan ‘20, Opinion Editor 

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Students consumed more food than expected at the annual Easter dinner in the dining hall on Sunday, April 1, leading to many dishes not being available for the latter part of the dinner.

Although only 768 people came to the dining hall for dinner, over 1,600 hot entrees were served over the course of the evening according to Director of Dining Services Errol Huffman. He explained that this figure does not account for dishes from the deli, grain bar, or salads.

“We use historical records on food consumption and customer traffic to determine how much food we plan to prepare and when we plan to have batches of food ready,” Huffman said in an email. “We try to make sure most recipes are prepared as fresh as possible rather than cook all of the food before meal service begins.”

Some students, however, raised concerns about the types and quantities of food being served. “Working on the line for dining services during Easter dinner was incredibly hectic, I think an hour went by without a pause in the line,” said Claire Jeantheau ’21, a red shirt. “It wasn’t the busiest shift I’ve had; there were nights earlier in the year when we ran out of everything, not only the main meats. I was just so surprised at the number of people who came to dinner after the campus seemed deserted all weekend.”

“I thought that the food options weren’t great for caf Easter. It appeared like there were a lot of meat options, but not many vegetarian options. I prefer to eat vegetarian in the caf,” said Justine Hayward ’18. “Additionally, they lacked variety in the dessert options.”

“I enjoyed that they did something different. Food was good in the main line, it was different, which is always good,” said Sean Dowd ’20. “[They] could have used more Easter themed desserts though. I didn’t notice the shortage [of ham and lamb] as I ate early.”

“I am aware of lamb running out and of other items running behind the traffic flow,” said Huffman.  “The lamb option was new for this menu therefore we had no history to predict consumption.  Lamb is not typically a popular item but was very popular on Sunday.” He continued, “If there are no more ingredients for the original dish, the chef will prepare another, similar dish, if available, and serve that with the original product to help it last longer and to give guests more options. In any case, the chef will prepare a substitute item to replace a dish that runs out.”

Huffman explained that dining services is currently building a food consumption history database, using its food management software to more accurately predict student food consumption in the future. “Comparing year to year patterns is much more useful than comparing patterns within the same year,” said Huffman.

Some students, however, enjoyed their meals. “I thought it was fine, honestly. I presume they just underestimated the turnout. Which is not a big deal. Mistakes happen, nobody’s perfect,” said Tristan Arnold ’18. “If they had estimated higher and fewer people had showed up, we would have ended up with excess food, which I presume would have led to food waste, which we want to avoid. And it wasn’t like they ran out of food entirely.”

“Running out of certain entrees has occurred more often than we want this year,” said Huffman.  “Eating habits have been very different with each menu cycle and that makes it a challenge in an environment where consistency in dining patterns is the norm.  We do not prepare enough of every entrée for the estimated guest count of each meal because that is not how guests eat; to do so would result in a great deal of leftover, wasted food. Some of the food will be offered during lunch the next day if it can reheat and present well.  Other leftover foods are donated to the local Salvation Army kitchen.”

“I remember wishing I had time to get seconds,” said Connor Ford ’19. “As to the caf running out of ham and lamb, I’d rather see that happen than there be a bunch left over, it means people liked it.”

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