Whether it’s warranted or not, it’s almost a right of passage for Vassar students to complain about the All Campus Dining Center (ACDC). Climbing the steps to the Students’ Building, one may find oneself mentally sighing and thinking, “Pizza again, I suppose?”
The Food Committee is a group designed to address those ACDC woes, yet many do not take advantage of this resource. In the past, the group has done little to let campus know of their existence, and that is what they’re endeavoring to change now.
This group of about 13 students works to improve the dining experience at Vassar. They meet weekly, joined by Senior Director of Campus Dining Maureen King, and Director of Operations of Campus Dining Laura Leone. Meetaing with higher-ups in campus dining gives the group a direct way to communicate the concerns of Vassar students to those who have the authority to make changes.
Under the leadership this year of sophomore Sarah King ’16, the Food Committee has revamped its focus.
As chair, King said that, “My goals are very different from what past food committee goals have been…I think mine are a little more broad scope.”
With a lot of changes having already taken place, the committee’s plans this year are proving to be different from years’ past even though they are still just getting started. The group hopes that their new strategies will bring about noticeable positive change.
In order to accomplish these goals, the committee this year is newly broken into subcom mittees, with each assigned to a specific area. With this strategy, the intention is that more will get done with each student working on a specific issue.
One primary goal of the committee is to increase the influence of local foods in Vassar dining. That means making the student body more aware of that presence. This year has witnessed an increase in signs next to food in the Deece that advertise them as locally grown. Right now, for example, there is an abundance of apples in the dining hall because they’re in season for local farmers.
One of the subcommittees is devoted to focusing on these issues. Another subcommittee is focused on those with dietary restrictions such as vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free students. This year they are attempting to strike a balance and keep those both with and without these dietary restrictions satisfied with food selection.
The third subcommittee is dedicated to what is essentially public relations, getting the word out about the committee as well as connecting students more to the ACDC staff. This is a new concept that the committee hopes will get more students to give feedback about their dining experiences at Vassar .
The group has a lot planned this year in order to do this, including study breaks, tabling, meet and greets and a variety of other events.
King admitted that after serving one year on the Food Committee, “I think the only problem I saw last year was that not that many people knew food committee existed. And it’s really important if we’re supposed to be a voice for the campus that people know that we’re around. And so that’s why that’s one of my more major goals is to make sure that people know that we exist.”
Aside from these goals, the committee also expresses specific concerns from Vassar students. One of the primary ways this is done is through face-to-face interaction. The Food Committee members are specifically selected so that there is at least one representative of each house as well as at least one representative of each class. This makes the committee members more accessible to students.
However, this year the committee has also unveiled a new way for students to give their feedback. Anyone who wants to comment on the food at Vassar can now visit vassarfoodfeedback.wordpress.com to do so. The website has so far proven to be a constructive space for compliments, suggestions, or complaints about Vassar food.
One issue that the food committee deals with is food or ingredient scarcity. In these cases, the Food Committee serve as the facilitators. They hear the complaints and take it to the Deece employees, who were able to fix it quickly, before any significant problems can arise.
The Food Committee deals with situations like this all the time. Their whole purpose is to make dining better for Vassar students, and they have the connections to campus dining that can make it happen. And the campus dining management is eager to help.
According to King, “The managers themselves take everything and implement it. They listen, and they are very willing to work with the campus for what they want because that’s why they’re here.”
Freshman member Molly James ’17 is excited about her new position on the committee and hopeful for the possibilities ahead. She explained the nature of the committee.
“It’s mostly just like a dialogue between the people who make our food and the people who are consuming it. It can be used in a lot of different ways to help the Vassar community,” she said.
If the group is successful in their endeavors this year, all Vassar students will be hearing more from the Food Committee. Then, hopefully, for every student fretting over the green beans being undercooked, or lamenting the fact that tater tots are a tragic scarcity, he or she will know that there is a place in which his or her voice can be heard.