Students express cafeteria concerns at forum

By Temo Olvera / Managing Editor

Fresh Ideas is taking note of student concerns, including raw food, allergies, and supply. Fresh Ideas VP of operations Brian Dittmer talked with nine students at the open forum for presidential scholars and dean’s list honorees on Monday.

Dajah Robinson, who eats and works in the cafeteria, showed pictures of raw chicken that was discovered in the serving pan, which was recooked. Robinson said the whole pan should have been thrown out, and pictures were being posted on social media.

“Nobody wants a chicken breast like that, and nobody wants a post like that,” said Humphrey. 

Dittmer said I.T. monitors comments made through the FreshX app and immediately communicates with Fresh Ideas and the team serving.

“We can SWAT team it and get them educated,” said Dittmer. 

Dittmer said he wants students to feel comfortable approaching the chef to ask about the food. 

Kyle Comins, who is lactose intolerant and struggles with texture sensitivity, said there are often few dairy-free options, and when he turns to his comfort food, chicken, it’s been replaced with something like fish. He said he ate a single hot dog because all the pasta had been cooked with dairy and the potatoes had cheese dumped on them. 

“Somedays, it feels like I have not eaten anything,” said Commins

Carlos Jimenez, who will be on the SGA cafeteria committee, said most servers don’t know what’s in the food. Comins said the sticker labels are used only for meats or not used at all. Cross-contamination also occurs on the Mongolian grill. 

“[My chicken’s] just cooking in the pork grease,” said Robinson

Joana Marucci, who has worked at the cafeteria for two and a half years, said they used to keep a list of people with allergies who needed individual meals. Now the cafeteria provides one vegetarian option instead. 

Robinson and her cheer team take shifts serving at the cafeteria. She said people usually come in waves. Cody Hohenberger, starting offensive lineman, said five o’clock on Sundays is when the football team gets a chance to eat. 

“My mindset is to go to the caf before football gets there,” said Robinson

“We are the biggest group on campus,” said Hohenberger.

“Also, the biggest eaters,” said Humphrey. 

Food often runs out, holding up the lines. Robinson said students will fuss with her about the wait time, which she cannot control. 

A majority of the students at the forum said they are friends with the Fresh Ideas staff who will check in on them and help them during their shifts and stick up for them when they are being harassed. The Fresh Ideas staff converse with the students outside of their working hours while in the cafeteria.

Humphrey said food service, transferability, and disability services were the main concerns voiced during the president’s open house. She said the forum was meant to be a continuation of the conversation with the people at the open house and wants those who attended to bring what was discussed to other students. 

“The thing is I don’t want students to think I can say anything and nobody’s going to do anything,” said Humphrey. 

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