Saimon Islam ('19)-
Recently, Washington and Lee Dining Services started “non-self-serve stations at Daily Dish and Lexington Grille” in the Marketplace. In practice, employees are now putting food on the student’s plates according to student orders instead of the usual process of students getting their own food. They also put up a notice in the Marketplace explaining why they enacted this policy and how it doesn’t prevent the students from getting the amount of food they want. I met with Jen Hickey, the Director of Dining Services, to get a better understanding of the rationale behind this change. She explained that the focus behind this new program is to improve the hygiene of the food served and to control food wastage. She explained that within the short time period the policy has been active, food wastage has gone down dramatically. This, in turn has resulted in chefs cooking a smaller amount of food and has allowed them to do new things with the menu. Overall, she called the program “really successful.”
The students, however, haven’t shared the excitement of the management on this new policy interrupting their usual routine in D Hall. Even Ms. Hickey had to admit that they “faced a little pushback the first week,” but then proceeded to claim that students are satisfied with the system. In reality, a majority of the students have expressed some degree of dissatisfaction over the longer lines and repeated times one has to give instructions to dining staff to get the desired amount of food. While they understand the benefits of the new system, they wish that they didn’t have to spend a large portion of their lunch hour in line waiting or to give instructions on precisely how much food they want on their plates.
Although I acknowledge the positive attributes of the new policy, I can’t help pondering the negative consequences it has. It could be said that the administration is promoting a certain eating habit which can be construed as body shaming. Additionally, it is highly unlikely for our more introverted peers (including myself) to repeatedly ask for more food. This can create undue stress on some students. When asked if they have considered these possibilities, the Director of Dining Services said that they keep in touch with the Office of Health Promotion, and they haven’t any such complaints from either the students or the office. So, they’re not considering this to be an issue.