A Direct Address to Our Peers Constant Caf Complaints

We are tired of hearing the never-ending moaning and groaning of students regarding the Dining Hall. 

With the resources that the Dining Hall has, they are doing surprisingly well. The Dining Hall serves hundreds of students every day. This is a monumental task to complete with the current staffing deficiencies. Lack of staff is a result of a greater issue with Dickinson College failing to offer a competitive wage to staff employees, but that is a discussion for a later time. The Dining Hall is also faced with a small budget that they must spend effectively to feed the college while minimizing food waste. All this to say, considering the difficult situation Dining Services are put in, they are doing well. 

These limitations result in a need to produce large quantities of food in an efficient and accessible manner. Dining Services must purchase food that is affordable and can easily be prepared in large quantities. This restricts the flavor and variety that Dining Services can provide. It is unrealistic to think that every piece of food that comes out of the Dining Hall will be prepared to your taste. 

The hot line is not the only place to get food in the caf. The expectation that one will be able to enter the Dining Hall, be handed a hot plate of delicious food, and then leave their dirty dishes in a bin is frankly absurd. If you are willing to put a little more effort into your meals, you may find more food you enjoy. 

The Dining Hall has heard your complaints and made some excellent additions to the selection. There is now a vegan section that always has guacamole, vegan cheese and often chickpea salsa; these are excellent additions to any sandwich or salad to give a little more flavor. There is now a protein section that always has vegan eggs and oatmeal at breakfast and a wide variety of beans and rice, baked potatoes and tortillas and chips. There is even fresh, warm bread next to the ice cream. The Encore section provides more options and minimizes food waste. 

Many condiments and food flavorings have always existed in the caf but are underutilized. There are spices at both the Pasta Bar and the Protein Station that allow you to flavor meat and vegetables to your taste. The Sandwich Bar has aioli sauces, banana peppers, roasted red peppers and salsa, in addition to your typical sandwich toppings. The Salad Bar also now contains a rotation of specialty salads including Greek salad, dill salad, pesto pasta salad and more. This makes getting delicious food simple.  

We understand that at times it can be difficult to be creative in the Dining Hall when hungry. Here are some of the ways we’ve used these options creatively: use the beans and rice from the Protein Station in a tortilla and add guacamole from the vegan station and cheese from the Salad Bar. You can top it off with sour cream and salsa from the Sandwich Bar and add peppers. Using the fresh bread loaf, make a delicious sandwich, adding aioli, pickles and peppers. The selection of lunch meats often changes to include bacon. To make it extra crispy, drizzle olive oil on the outside of the bread and put it in the panini press.

 For breakfast try making a breakfast sandwich using a croissant and cheese with an egg and breakfast meat. Or make a bagel but add tomato and onion with pepper to increase flavor. A bowl of yogurt is always good and to make it more filling you can add peanut butter and bananas. The coffee may not be to your liking, but if you add cocoa mix and cream it can be a scrumptious mocha. If you do not like the vegetable options, you can steam broccoli or other vegetables from the Salad Bar in the microwave.  

The quality and effectiveness of the Dining Hall must be supported by everyone using the space. It is unfair to complain about Dining Services when we often do not do our part. When the patrons of the caf leave a mess, it creates more work for employees and detracts from time that could have been spent serving or preparing meals, not to mention that it creates a worse and more stressful job for the already underpaid and understaffed employees. It takes no time at all to properly sort your dishes in the dish line. Napkins, tea bags and any trash should get moved to a black dish bin. Do not leave messes on the table; grab a napkin to wipe it off onto your plate. The Salad Bar is such a disaster an employee constantly cleans it during meals. Be more conscious and pick up things you drop on the counter. 

Take less food than you think you need, especially when self-serving. This will create less food waste, allow resources to last longer, eliminate constant employee restock and you can always take more. In general, a more conscious group of patrons should do their own part to ensure that the caf runs smoother and there is more food available. 

What it comes down to is the willingness of students to do what they can to help Dining Services and understand the struggles the staff are facing. The food provided could be so much worse in our underfunded cafeteria. 

If you are still upset, join the Food Advisory Council by contacting Senate Chief of Staff Nora Stocovaz ’25, and she will put you in touch with the Chair. They are always open to student feedback. You can also come to a Student Senate meeting to share your concerns. Complaining in an echo box will not bring about any change.