High prices, low quality and bad service are often used to describe dining services on-campus. Many students avoid eating on-campus, longing for off-campus alternatives. However, ARAMARK is very much underrated. They have made dramatic improvements over the past few years, introducing changes that deserve applause.

Since when did establishing meal plan requirements – particularly for seniors to at least have bronze declining – constitute an evil plan to strip our money away? Many ignore the reason that ARAMARK is simply responding to parents’ concerns about their children’s nutritional needs. Attending two Freshmen Orientations allowed me to hear parents voice their concerns about the aspects of student life. I’ve heard a number of comments from parents that are worried their children will not have enough to eat. Rather than thinking cynically, one can attribute parental pressure instead of money-making as the reason for the meal plan requirements.

This year, ARAMARK has revamped their operating hours and food variety. It has expanded the hours for Danforth and Douglass dining centers. Danforth now includes breakfast hours, allowing residents living far away from the Pit to enjoy a meal close by.

Prices have declined, even as operating hours increased. For example, dinner at Danforth has decreased from $11 to $9.75. ARAMARK seems to have sacrificed some profit at the expense of higher cost.

Many students, especially upperclassmen, avoid Danforth as much as possible, but they are missing out. The all-you-can-eat salad bar still exists – something that is missed at Douglass, where one uses an entire club meal on one salad. The home station, stir fry, the Deli and the pizza station constantly change, dispelling the misconception that dining services serve the same food everyday.

Too many students complain about the quality of on-campus food. I believe it is quite the contrary, however. I often see workers changing their gloves, washing their hands and checking the temperature of the food to prevent chemical formation in the food. After all, they are liable for any harm their food causes.

Expanding food variety could not be more emphasized. Hillside recently opened The Creamery for delightful desserts. The ITS Java Cart now offers high quality bagels rather than generic ones from the off-campus vendor, Balsam Bagels.

One of the biggest problems of the negativity about ARAMARK is that upperclassmen continually instill criticisms to the minds of underclassmen. The best approach, in my opinion, is to permit freshmen to judge for themselves.

One of the notions that need to be eradicated is the idea that all big corporations are evil. Some of them are rational profit-maximizing firms that care about their customers. ARAMARK is probably one of them.

Lee can be reached atalee@campustimes.org.

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