By Spring Quarter every freshman complains about the disintegrating taste and quality of “dorm food,” but UCSB’s dining commons claim there are rarely complaints that the food served causes religious or environmentally friendly students to compromise their beliefs.
Students at UCLA have complained about the lack of consideration their residence hall dining commons have given to religious students, but UCSB’s dining services have received only praise for the vegetarian, vegan and various religious holiday meal alternatives they provide.
“I have never been confronted with the issue of students compromising their beliefs in order to eat in the dining commons,” said Bonnie Crouse, the coordinator for systems and procurement. “In fact, students have showed a lot of appreciation for the foods provided.”
Jewish student Polly Dagmy said she has had no problem eating in the dining commons because they offer a vegetarian option.
“They also offered alternative meals with matzo during Passover, which really surprised me,” Dagmy said.
Falahyah Jacques, the vice president of the Muslim Student Association, said the dining commons accommodate Muslim students with bag lunches during Ramadan, but most practicing Muslims do not eat the non-kosher meat served during the rest of the year.
“If you do want to eat meat, you prepare it yourself, and that option is limited [for] people living in the dorms,” Jacques said. “[Kosher] meat distributors will sell to the university, but I don’t think it’s even an interest to them.”
Crouse said there are many issues about the kosher laws that range from the type of products to the special prayers said over the kitchen and food, and there has never been that great a demand from students to keep a totally kosher kitchen. They do offer a “kosher style” option, which includes meals that do not contain both meat and milk and distinct holiday meals.
“When I lived in the dorms, there was always a vegetarian option, which was all I really needed,” said Anjali Amin, president of the Indus club. “A lot of Hindus don’t eat meat, but I’ve never heard of any complaints.”
Crouse also said there have never been concerns about organic or genetically engineered food brought to her attention.
The dining commons cannot specifically order organic food because of the bulk products they purchase from a local vendor. There is not enough supply of organic food available, said Crouse, and students often eat by sight and choose vegetables and fruits that have an appealing appearance, which may not always be the case with organic food.
Many foods have been genetically engineered as well, and the school purchasers cannot prevent buying these products because even the vendors and manufacturers do not know the nutritional facts or the consequences of genetically engineered foods. Most likely, foods like corn, soy and granola have been genetically modified.
“I am frustrated at the quality of food but I have a full meal plan and can’t afford to not use that,” said resident assistant and junior environmental studies major Ed France.
“Most students would like to know about the quality of food, but haven’t put in the efforts to ask,” he said. “If organic options are provided, most people would support it.”