If there is one thing that really burns my toast, it’s being forced to dine on sub-par food every single day for four months.
I grew up in a home where the quality of a meal or even a simple snack was highly scrutinized. I was brought up to believe that food is not just food; it is a mark of how one lives. My parents and grandparents believed (and still do) that what really brings people together and what really makes everyone happy at the end of the day is a delicious, well-cooked, and well-served meal. We ate fresh fruit and vegetables at every meal (we grew much of our own), and everything I ate was homemade; my parents were kind enough to spare me from the unhealthy, under-cooked lunch provided by the county school system by sending me to school with prepared lunch in an insulated lunch-bag (nerdy, but so much more delicious than fries and a pudding cup).
I was never subjected to sub-par dining either. If my family went to a restaurant, we expected and received high quality food and high quality service. Until I went to college, I think I ate at a fast-food chain maybe two or three times over the course of eighteen years.
The one thing that I neglected to do when I visited McDaniel was sample some of the food from Englar Dining Hall. On all of my other visits to colleges and universities, the tour guides gave me and the other people on the tour a voucher to grab a quick lunch in one of the dining halls. Perhaps if I had lunched at “Glar” during a tour, I may have changed my mind completely about attending McDaniel.
My first experience dining at Glar, I found myself at a loss; instead of being enticed by the delicious aroma of a hot home-style meal, I was repulsed. The chicken looked under-cooked and greasy, the salad bar consisted of baby carrots, onions and cucumbers that looked as though they had been sitting out for a week un-covered, and broccoli that had clearly not been washed properly. The only thing that seemed edible was the chicken patties, and even those resided on stale buns. Its no wonder the “freshman-fifteen” takes a heavy toll around here; the only food options that are remotely appetizing in appearance (and often taste) are those akin to the kind one finds at McDonalds or Burger King. My parents were forced to pay for a meal plan that works out to approximately two meals a day so that I could eat food that made me either gain weight or made me physically ill.
Another thing that was a swift punch in the breadbasket, and never fails to make me nauseas, is the lack of sanitary food preparation. For example: the wrap station uses the same knife or two to cut the wraps in half regardless of what is on the wrap. The only mode of sanitation for the knives is a rag or something that resembles a paper towel. I may not be an expert on FDA regulations, but I did take a food science class in high school. Knives used on fish, meat, poultry, and vegetables should all be kept and used separately. They should not be cutting our wraps on a cutting board that is used for meat, fish, and poultry products (depending on the wrap); they should be cutting our wraps on the plates we use. The staff should be wearing long sleeves when preparing and serving food and should be switching serving gloves regularly. Not to mention that hair, regardless of length or style should be completely covered. If the school can authorize the money to renovate the dining hall, they can certainly provide the money and time to meet certain health standards.
In an article published by the Carroll County Times in December 2010, it was cited that 28 percent of McDaniel students participate in athletics. The article continues in arguing that in order for the student body at McDaniel to feel certain positivity and kinship, the athletic department needs more attention; winning makes people happy and makes the school more attractive to prospective students and donors. Sure, I’m not going to argue that winning is, well, for lack of a better word, awesome. However, what is the one thing that would make me, and probably a vast majority (higher that 28 percent) of the current student body absolutely ecstatic? Getting through a day at McDaniel without heartburn, indigestions, or IBS after eating at the dining hall. Going back to that old standard held by my family: good food makes everybody happy. I’d be willing to bet that everyone would be in a better mood and more willing to say positive things about McDaniel College regardless of our athletic stats if we could look forward to a decent meal minus the gastro-intestinal discomfort.
I recognize that this is not about the Free Press, but I feel as though it is something that needs to be said.