It is easy to forget about the privileges we have here at the 7Cs, especially when accessing them is as easy as swiping a card. The drastic differences in food quality between ours and other colleges was revealed to me recently when I went on a trip to San Francisco.
During my visit, I stayed with my sister, Lily Samiee, who is currently living at the University of San Francisco (USF), and I got a glimpse into her college’s food culture.
There is only one dining hall for a school of nearly 19,000 students. In contrast, at the 5Cs, there are seven dining halls for 7,700 students.
Across the 5Cs, the high quality of the food is undeniable. Pitzer College is ranked No. 37 on Niche’s “2018 Best College in Food in America,” while Pomona College is on its heels at No. 38. Even for those with dietary restrictions, all the dining halls are extremely accommodating, providing options for those that are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant.
“There is a plethora of food,” said Isabelle DeTroy PZ ’21. “We’re really fortunate. Some of my vegan friends at other schools don’t have nearly as many healthy vegan options as I do here at the [7Cs].”
In contrast, at USF, such options are a rarity. Breakfasts commonly consist of bacon and eggs with few options in between. “I have a bagel nearly every morning,” Samiee said. “Not because I enjoy that, but because that’s the only option [as a vegetarian].”
Additionally, another drastic difference between USF and the 7Cs is our buffet-style dining halls.
Claremont students on the 16-Meal Plan pay roughly $12 per meal and get to take full advantage of buffet meals to ensure they are getting their dollar’s worth each time they enter the dining hall.
While Claremont students have the luxury of eating as much as they want once swiping into a dining hall, this is not the case for students at USF. Since USF students have to pay for individual items, they often have to pay more than $12 for each meal.
Even in USF students limit themselves to pay less than $12 per meal, the quality of their food is decreased significantly. Additionally, while the conditions of our living quarters are kept immaculate each day, the same cannot be said for USF’s cafeteria.
“I was waiting for my burger at the grill,” Samiee said, “And I saw a live beetle on the counter. On a completely different occasion, my friend came up to me and said, ‘Hey, did you see those rat droppings that were next to the salad bar?’”
Such prices for the quality of food and condition of cafeterias are not unfounded in the United States. In fact, the Claremont Colleges are among the minority that have such pristine dining halls.
Even though less than favorable food situations are not a problem here at the 7Cs, it is a problem most elsewhere. We should be aware that not all college students are as fortunate as us to have healthy and affordable dining halls across campus.
If students are paying the steep prices that they are, they should all have access to the same caliber of food and dining halls. It’s time that students at other colleges and universities fight against gross food cultures and demand for quality.
Sophie Samiee is from Portland, OR and is a first year at Pitzer College. She has nine siblings and some of her favorite activities include throwing pottery, solving crosswords, and making kombucha.