Controversy enveloped the McDaniel campus last week following Jason Stein’s letter to the Free Press about the quality of food in Englar Dining Hall.
Stein, who currently serves as vice president of the Student Government Association, claims in the letter to have found a grub in his salad on Monday, Sept. 17, and says that he brought it to the attention of “the manager on duty who whisked it away with all the grace of a manatee” and told him “the food is so ‘fresh’ that sometimes the workers cannot control for foreign objects.”
Later that evening, Stein claimed in his letter, titled “Bringing New Meaning to the Word ‘Glarbage,’” that a friend of his “overheard the employees talking about how they found ‘another one of those worms.’”
The letter quickly became the most popular item on the Free Press’ website, garnering 440 unique page views between Thursday night and Monday evening, and touched off a firestorm among students and the administration.
Beth Gerl, Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs, said Monday that “Jason indicated that he found a small insect [in his salad],” and that the college and Sodexo, its food service provider, has investigated the cause of the incident.
The lettuce in which the grub was found came from the college’s produce provider, Keany, in a sealed bag, according to Gerl, and the college’s “response was to contact the [produce] company immediately, and to say to them this is what’s happened here, this can’t happen again, you need to investigate, we don’t want this to happen, and this can’t be the product you’re providing us.”
Gerl reassured that “this is clearly not any kind of pattern,” and that, as a precaution, food service is now more carefully inspecting all bags of lettuce when they open them.
Students had mixed reaction to Stein’s letter; while many who shared or responded to the letter on Twitter seemed unsurprised, others were unfazed by his accusations and were turned off by the manner in which he wrote about the Glar staff.
One commenter on the letter, “Travis,” said that “[t]he idea that any of the above article is a legitimate complaint should be immediately stricken from the mind,” and called Stein out for using “personal attacks rather than well thought out remarks about the quality of the food.”
Outside of this incident, the dining hall, known colloquially as “Glar,” has been commended for its food safety practices. Gerl says that Glar is subjected to what she described as “stringent” health and safety inspections every two to three weeks, and that General Manager Rita Webster and her staff “received a double gold audit on their last NSF [National Safety Foundation] third party health and safety company audit.”
Gerl, who is the administrator in charge of the college’s food services, says that when food service complaints arise, “these are questions immediately we ask in a situation like this: why did it happen, how did it happen, and what steps will we immediately take to ensure that it doesn’t happen again?”
Gerl also says that part of the process is the college “reaching out to the student or students that have been involved with the situation and sit down with them personally, and talk with them, and to reassure them about their experience, and to make sure they know the people that they can come to and talk with,” and that she had spoken to Stein regarding his experience with the grub.
In response to those who have had reservations about eating in Glar after this incident, Gerl says that “there may be an occasional dissatisfaction with something,” and that “if at any time a student finds that their food is not the quality that they would like it to be, I want them to be able to bring it to the attention of someone in food service, and then what food service will do is investigate or they’re going to look for a pattern.
“I think students should feel confident in their consumption in any of food venues, whether its Caseys’ Corner or Glar.”