Last week, several dozen students sat in on LUCC General Council, while four upperclassmen led discussion on the changes made to this year’s meal plan and Bon Appétit policies. In attempts to save Bon Appétit money, the addition of clamshells has been implemented to reduce the amount of broken and stolen dishes taken from the commons.
To be specific, Bon Appétit lost between $18,000-20,000 each year due to broken and stolen dishware. While this could be an effective money-saving alteration, both the price of students’ meal plan and cost of food in Kaplan’s Cafe have increased. This includes items that now cost the same, despite being half their previous size.
So far, Bon Appétit has been responsive to some of student’s concerns. At the beginning of the year, a student leaving the commons could only take a single piece of hand fruit or dessert while leaving the commons. Now, students are able to leave the commons with a sandwich or bagel in addition to a hand fruit or dessert item.
Despite inching in the right direction, the limits to food taken from the commons are quite an adjustment for returning students that were able to leave Andrew Commons with an entire plate of food last year. This is mainly an issue for athletes, who often do require extra sustenance between meals.
There are still much bigger issues and questions yet to be answered by Bon Appétit and relevant campus staff. For the last several years, the administration has been selective in its accountibility for student complaints. Smaller issues like menu items are dealt with speadily. However, larger issues such as pricing and adequate meal plans are entrapped in bureaucracy.
Before attending the meeting last week, it was not clear that Lawrence’s finance department determines the cost of the meal plan, not Bon Appétit. Furthermore, Lawrence staff asserted that about $500 of each student’s board cost could be classified as overhead. When asked to explicate, there was no clear information presented on exactly where these funds are directed or how those figures are determined.
Above all, we are concerned about the lack of nutrition we are receiving in a meal plan that — mathematically speaking — could never offer students three meals per day. Again, Lawrence staff presented an inadequate response to this concern, stating that this was based on student interests in 2009. However, they fail to account for the likely possibility of change in student opinion over the past seven years.
Nutritional sustenance is essential to students’ health and wellness. Students should not have to worry that they are unable to have three meals a day due to the limits of their meal plan or the way their schedule lines up with the hours that Andrew Commons is open.
Whether it is a Bon Appétit manager of a member of Lawrence’s finance department, students’ concerns need to be addressed. With so many different changes this year, Lawrence needs to be transparent about decision-making in regards to our food plan. In order for students and staff to work collectively establish a happy medium that everyone is comfortable with, students need to know where these decisions are made.