The UC is now allowing students to serve themselves with open plates instead of prepackaged boxes.
Pacific University’s main cafeteria is provided food and other ingredients by Bon Appétit, a company dedicated to making meals that are healthy, nutritious, and humane all at once. They strive to spread awareness to the public about the hardships that farmers face and speak out for their rights.
When Bon Appétit first debuted in Fall 2020, several of its intended purposes, such as attempting to provide an atmosphere that reminded patrons of home, were inhibited by COVID-19. A majority of the food was boxed beforehand for students to take back to their table or dormitory, similar to that of restaurant takeout. I was disappointed when I first found out about the boxed meals. As someone who was born and raised in Honolulu, Pacific University is almost infamous among Hawaiian students as a “mainland” (Hawaiian slang for the other 49 states) college with a high attendance rate of students from the Hawaiian Islands. One aspect about Pacific that was always promoted was the selection of local cuisine, such as chicken katsu, spam, etc. Because of this, I was bummed when I heard that Pacific had switched to Bon Appétit just as I had enrolled as a student.
Similar to that of a TV dinner, the pre-packaged food during the time of COVID-19 had a set amount of protein and side dishes. Because the food was prepared ahead of time, there was a certain element of hastiness present in the overall condition of the food. The pizza, for example, seemed to have been cooked with the intent of finishing it quickly, therefore the quality suffered as a consequence, evidenced by the poor ratio of dough to cheese and toppings.
A significant challenge for me in regards to the boxed lunches was eating out of the containers. Because they contained flaps that stood upright after opening, it was difficult to maneuver utensils inside, and eventually, I would tear the flaps off, or dismantle the container outright to create a makeshift plate. Another issue I found was the pre-selected portions for each meal, which would either be too much or too little for my individual tastes. If I wanted more of a certain food item, for example, I would have to pick up another container, or ask the dining staff to combine two containers into one.
Yet, as we delved into Fall 2021, it was inevitable that change would be seen in the services Bon Appétit provides. One of the most notable differences that I’ve seen is the students’ new freedom to pick the portions of their food themselves. There has also been a change in quality and quantity of the food itself.
Currently, Bon Appétit and the Pacific University cafeteria have changed drastically from how they were set up two semesters ago. The employees in the cafeteria now spend that extra time preparing their dishes with an increase in quality. Instead of relying on pre-packaged meals, students are given the freedom to choose their own portions, with limitations to more popular food items. While there are still issues present, I believe that the dining services at Pacific University are on the right track. After all, as an unemployed, starving student, cafeteria food that is both varied and tasty is hardly something to complain about. — Max Pennington