At the beginning of this academic year, Lawrence began using Bon Appétit as its food
service. Bon Appétit has helped Lawrence’s food service become more socially responsible,
using local ingredients whenever possible and taking other steps toward sustainability.
However, Bon Appétit has not visibly taken sufficient steps to promote nutritional
responsibility at Lawrence. Currently, it is far too difficult for a Lawrence student to judge
whether Bon Appétit is serving him or her a healthful meal. We at The Lawrentian encourage
Bon Appétit to make a sustained effort at nutritional transparency.
According to Nancy Truesdell, vice president for student affairs and dean of students,
Bon Appétit will be making some substantial changes during the December break that may
increase the amount of nutritional information provided.
Said Truesdell, Bon Appétit “will be making a number of enhancements to labeling and
signage that will help educate students about the nutritional choices they are making.”
However, Julie Severance, general manager of Bon Appétit operations at Lawrence, said
that full nutritional information is unlikely to be available.
“Our chefs cook from scratch and our menus change daily,” Severance said, “so it is difficult
for us to post nutritional content for each of our meals.”
Severance encourages students to contact Bon Appétit chefs for nutritional information,
but having to take this step represents an undue burden on busy Lawrence students who
are trying to eat healthfully on a daily basis.
Although we commend Bon Appétit for attempting to make progress in the area of nutritional
transparency, Lawrence’s former in-house food service seems to have outstripped Bon
Appétit in this key area.
In an article titled “Greenfire and Downer hope to cut down on food waste” that appeared
in the Nov. 2, 2007, issue of The Lawrentian, Patrick Niles, then-director of Lawrence dining
services, said that Lawrence had purchased a program called EatecNetX, a “multi-layered
menu inventory-management system.”
This program was supposed to allow Lawrence to create “nutrition panels” and an “interactive
Web page where you could click on the food items and it would give you the complete
nutritional value of your meal,” Niles said.
Although the program was never fully implemented, we at The Lawrentian do not understand
why Bon Appétit could not implement such a program, especially if Lawrence has
already spent money on purchasing EatecNetX.
Bon Appétit’s apparent inability to provide full nutritional information is particularly
troubling because both faculty and students are required to use Bon Appétit’s food service
on a regular basis, even if other food sources are available that will provide full nutritional
As noted by Truesdell, “Bon Appétit has the right of first refusal for any catered event
on campus” that uses “funds coming from the operating budget.”
Greg Griffin, campus center director, added that any “food for a student, faculty, staff
or community event in the Warch Campus Center besides your personal brown-bag lunch
must be provided by Bon Appétit.”
If Lawrence events are forced to use Bon Appétit – just as Lawrence students are forced
to take a meal plan – Bon Appétit should do a better job with nutritional transparency.