Disgust. It’s What’s for Dinner.

Posted by at 10:25AM

Well looking back, it is better than the crap they served in middle school.

Having recently become interested in the popularity of being a foodie, and having just come from faculty dinner, I’ve caught myself thinking a lot about dining halls and how mysterious these places are.  Really, who hasn’t complained about dining hall food at least 349683 times?  Don’t get me wrong, I love that Wilbur tries to give you good ingredients (thanks for leaving the cinnamon out for me to play with, Wilbs), I would give Ricker an A every time I’ve been there (granted, that is actually a total of 3 times), and I love Indian-food-Sundays at FloMo, but on the whole I’m a bit disenchanted with dining halls and the whole Stanford food situation as of late.  And as you probably already know, we at TUSB are encouraged to bitch about things at our bi-weekly staff meetings (I’m only sort of exaggerating).

So while I’m not a journalist, and I am basing the following off of only my own experiences and perceptions on dining at Stanford, here goes all my thoughts on Stanford dining.  Something that everyone seems to want to complain about, but no one ever really seems to want to change.  And really, what has your dining ambassador ever done except spam your email list?  I submit, nothing.  (Sorry to all the DA’s of the Stanford world, you’re probably still good people … maybe). 

And the list begins:

  • Stanford’s food system is stunting our growth. No, I don’t mean physically.  Because realistically, you could eat a bucket of raw spinach at every meal at almost every dining hall.  And studies show that eating a bucket of raw spinach for every meal helps you to grow big and strong.  What I mean by this is that Stanford students never have to learn how to actually prepare a meal.  Nor they learn how much food costs.  Or how to budget food and money.  I’m not saying every Stanford grad is completely inept in this category of life as an adult, but we can’t even use our meal plan points at “The Market at Munger.”  You have to use real money.  The fact that I’m upset about spending real money on food shows how much I am sheltered from the world.
  • Speaking of real money and meal plan points, these things are a fricken rip off!  If you wanted to go on a 10meal/week plan and buy all of the rest of your meals using your meal plan points, you would have less than half of the amount of points necessary to buy them.  And that’s assuming they were all breakfast meals.  Let’s not even go into dinner.  Oh and by the way, if you don’t use all your meals by the end of the quarter (unlike meal plan points, these suckers don’t roll over), the money that you paid is “used to operate the campus dining halls as a residential based community dining system and to administer the student meal program.”  What does that mean?  The dining halls can just suck your money and say it’s to create community?
  • I want the ability to retract my swiped meal. Seriously.  You know those days where you literally walk into to the dining hall after swiping and think, “Absolutely nothing here looks appetizing?”  Why should we not be able to take our swipe back?  I want to be able to take it back and use it at a different dining hall.  But then wait, you can’t swipe at more than one place per meal.  Economically, I just can’t wrap my head around rewarding a crappy meal by paying for it.  It’s stupid.
  • All dining halls are not equal. Why does Wilbur have higher end ingredients and products than Stern when Stern appears to serve more people?  Why are they building the Arillaga Family Dining Commons on East campus when that will be the third major dining hall on one street, despite the fact that plenty of people live on West Campus and don’t have a convenient dining hall?
  • That thick layer of grease over all my food is real nice. I know, I know, it’s super hard to cook for sooo many people without using oil and butter and everything else greasy pretty liberally.  But then, why does everything seem so much less greasy during admit weekend and parents’ weekend?  Mysterious, indeed.
  • They basically force you to eat at these certain times. Ok, there are the late plate and sack lunch options, but in my experience, 40% of those orders get lost.  (Granted, that was 2 of 5 sack lunch meals, but you know…)
  • They waste like a billion food. I vote we move to the whole foods/I-hear-they-have-it-in-tresidder-but-i-havent-yet-seen-it way of buying food: by WEIGHT!  Probably it would get rid of overindulgent in one-fell-swoop.  Genius, but also probably pretty impossible to actually implement?  I think so!
Ok, so that was a little more harsh than I had planned, but because I’m coming back from a sort of personal blogging hiatus, I was eager to get some opinions out into the blogoshpere.
I will say that dining hall service is actually generally quite excellent.  At least for Stern and Wilbs, I have been served by some of the friendliest people on campus.  But then, there’s always that random guy who won’t even make eye contact with you.
So Stanford Dining what are you going to do about it?  or BETTER YET Stanford STUDENT BODY, what are you going to do about it?

2 Responses to “Disgust. It’s What’s for Dinner.”

  1. Dave says:

    I moved to Mirrielees and ditched my meal plan. All problems above were solved.

  2. Robin Thomas says:

    I dunno. I’ve eaten at a bunch of universities’ dining halls, and Stanford outstrips them all, by far. I had some friends from Emory visit recently and they were absolutely blown away by the quality of the food (then again, we were eating in FloMo, which totally has the best food every meal but breakfast). When I hear people complaining about Stanford Dining, I think to myself, “Oh, come on, spoiled children.” That’s not to say that I haven’t complained — once you’re used to something, it’s easy to get snippy about it. But hey.

    That said, I wish there was a better way for students to get more cooking experience — as well as experience filing their own taxes, balancing their own checkbooks, changing their own tires, cleaning their own bathrooms, paying their own rent, buying their own groceries, and doing their own dishes (in a sink, without a dishwasher). It amazes me how dumb Stanford’s brilliant students are in so many of these respects (and reinforces my belief that everyone should live on their own for a year before starting college). But I don’t think there’s really anything Stanford can do about that, because it’s not really their place to educate us in those things. Maybe build a whole bunch more Mirrieleeses?

    But I’ll come off my high horse to say that if I had to change Stanford Dining, I’d like to see:
    -The meal plans really are overpriced. I calculated once that if instead of using a meal plan, you were to buy enough Cardinal Dollars to cover 19 meals per week for an entire quarter (including breaks), it would be several hundred dollars cheaper than buying the 19-meal meal plan. But the food’s good!
    -I love and totally support the idea of buying food by weight, instead of all-you-can-eat-style. The amount of food Stanford children waste is pretty remarkable (I’m guilty too — you just stop thinking about it after a while). Granted, having to weigh everyone’s meals would seriously slow down the already pretty big lines in the dining halls.
    -Having more dining halls open during Thanksgiving Break (and having ANY dining halls open during Spring Break!!!) would be nice.
    -There has GOT to be a better way to get kids to return their trays and plates. It royally pisses me off when some douchebag thinks it’s acceptable to leave their dirty dishes in a dorm hallway for weeks on end, or they just stack them outside the dining hall doors. It’s a good thing for those kids that they have their personal maids to clean up for them when they go home to their parents’ mansions during breaks.
    -Having certain dining halls closed on Fridays and Saturdays is a bit of a pain.

    But aside from that, Gigi, I think we really have it pretty stinkin’ well off. Go find me any more than 10 colleges that do it better, and I’ll be impressed.


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