As we all know, Pacific University is among some of the smaller campuses in Oregon. With about 1,200 undergraduates enrolled at the University, we have three places to eat on campus: Real Food on Campus, The Bistro and Einstein Bros. Bagels. Yes, the company ARAMARK provides Pacific students with quality food, but are the options pleasing to all students? For many, the answer is no.
For me, as an incoming freshman this year, I expected to walk into an environment with smells that reminded me of my mom’s cooking back home. But sweet sensations and herbal blends were not what awaited me. I had my hopes set too high because smells so heavenly at a school crowded with a thousand of people is unrealistic.
At first, my impression was that all of the food seemed decent. After the first two weeks my stomach felt torn; I couldn’t decide what kind of food I wanted for my meals. I either had “this” yesterday or “that” this morning. I was sick of it.
They hardly change up the variety and students are stuck in a repetitive pattern of pasta, salad, sandwiches or pizza.
Freshman Rachel Fiegenbaum said the transition from home cooked meals to college meals was distinct.
“I miss being able to wake up and go to the kitchen in my pajamas and eat things like farm fresh eggs and berries,” Fiegenbaum said. “I miss knowing where my food comes from and knowing that it’s fresh. At RFoC, you don’t know where it comes from and how long its been persevered, frozen or packaged.”
For sophomore Reed Feldman, he finds the variation not in the types of food but in the quality. He said that his dishes range from tasty to bland.
“My worst gripe however, is the rotation,” Feldman said. “After a while you start to see the wheels turning and you gain a sixth sense for what they’ll have that day, because inevitably you’ve had it before. I can also say that as a vegetarian, my options are even more limited.”
Feldman claimed that although there isn’t much choice, he is able to make the best of it. He’s not too fond of the way the food is cooked, besides at the grill.
“I’ve brought vegetables to the fry cook and had him grill them with eggs and sriracha and a crumbled up veggie burger,” Feldman said about one of his better experiences. “There are quite a few good grill cooks, but I just get the sense that everyone is stretched thin in there.”
It appears that RFoC itself is not the underlying issue. The way the food is cooked often gives RFoC a bad reputation.
The problem is that a lot of the people who cook and serve the food have let us as students down multiple times.
Although the RFoC and Bistro holds some talent, it seems that half the time there is either a student cook or another cook that cannot adequately prepare the food.
“I feel like the UC food becomes less desirable because of how it is cooked,” Fiegenbaum said, “I have been a victim of runny pancakes, raw pizza, and tough chicken. The stations are very hit and miss. The sandwich station is usually good but I feel like the majority of the time sandwiches and wraps are thrown together. The home station food always seems dry because it sits under the lamps for an extended period of time.”
She said she believes more training will help better the cooks and therefore improve the food drastically.
Although there have been evident bad experiences eating on campus, there have also been very good experiences.
First off, not all the cooks are bad. Mr. V. who cooks at the Mongolian Grill .during lunchtime is superb. Freshman Paige Ruffier couldn’t agree more.
“One of my better experiences was with Mr. V at the Mongolian Grill,” Ruffier said. “He knows how to cook and he is funny. I look forward going to lunch when he is working.”
Overall, I think we could agree that eating on campus is not the equivalent to eating in a prison, it’s just not nearly as good as a home cooked meal, or food at a nice restaurant.
I think that if the food alternated more often, was prepared to the best of its ability, and the school provided more options for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free diets, more students would be content with eating on campus. I know I would.