Student Input Needed in Dining Hall Decisions

Under new management as of spring 2011, Pomona College Dining Services has implemented a number of new policies. Among other things, it has cut frozen yogurt, instituted “Meatless Mondays,” and temporarily put the Food Rescue Program on hold. These changes have generated varying degrees of controversy. The controversy, however, should not be about the changes themselves, but rather about the way the management decided to make them.

The most controversial of the changes has been the misnomered Meatless Monday. The furor over this policy change, however, has been overstated. There are no less than three meat options during Meatless Mondays: the grill, serving hamburgers, hot dogs, and the like; the pizza bar, generally offering a variety of pizzas with meat toppings; and the sandwich bar, with its variety of cold cuts.

Furthermore, the meat selection is only limited to these three options for lunch, with breakfast and dinner still as meaty as ever. The so-called Meatless Monday occurs only at Frary, and only on Mondays. And even if Frary is “meatless” on Mondays, there are still five other dining halls without meat restrictions, and on every other day of the week there are six dining halls where you can consume as much meat as you desire. By my count, then, of the 114 meals served on the 5Cs during the course of a week, only one has meat restrictions. The anti-Meatless Monday crusaders have no case, even if one ignores the extensive health and environmental benefits of the program.

Critics of the frozen yogurt cuts face similar counterarguments. The cost of maintenance and the availability of a number of frozen yogurt substitutes at Pomona’s dining halls—not to mention the fro-yo available at the other 5C dining halls—may well mean that the decision to cut the frozen yogurt machines was the right one.

Students concerned with the elimination of the Food Rescue Program have more reasonable concerns. A low-cost initiative, the Food Rescue Program provided leftover food to a local food pantry and homeless shelter, Inland Valley Hope Partners. The failure to reinstate the program reflects poorly on the new management’s commitment both to sustainability and Pomona’s responsibilities to the surrounding community.

The new policies certainly warrant discussion and debate. The method in which these decisions have been made, however, should be uniformly regarded as unacceptable. The changes made in the dining halls were, on the whole, made without any input from the student body.

Pomona’s dining service is at its best when student input influences operations. The interaction between Samantha Meyer and students who choose or require a gluten-free diet is a prime example of a productive interaction. Elected student officials were not consulted before the new Pomona dining hall management decided to take away meat on Mondays; indeed, if one consults the Senate briefs from the Feb. 11 issue of TSL, it appears that some representatives are quite incensed about the whole ordeal.

Changes in the dining halls without input from the student body are entirely unacceptable—and comment boards don’t count as student input. The Pomona student body has a Food Committee, led by elected ASPC officials, and to not permit them a voice in the decision-making process is preposterous. The student body deserves a voice in decisions that impact their daily quality of life. End the food dictatorship now.

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