Ask a fifth-year: Consider these food options

Dear Will,

I’m really getting quite sick of the food at Warch. I feel like Bon Appétit isn’t doing a very good job, and I wish I had better options, considering the meal plan is mandatory. What can I do to feel more satisfied with the food I eat?

-Starving in Sage


I’m not sure if you’ll find any students at Lawrence who remember the horrors of our food options before Bon Appétit—they’d have to be sixth-years. I experienced the abysmal food of Downer Commons only once when I visited as a prospie. Every time I get the urge to complain about Bon Appétit, I think back on that one meal and feel comforted that we unquestionably have come along way in terms of our food options.

If you’re coming from a home that had the luxury of moms and dads who cook all sorts of comfort food just the way you like it, I urge you to consider the obvious fact that moving away is going to involve some sort of adjustment. Bon Appétit certainly can’t make my mom’s braised country ribs, but they’re cooking for 1400, not a family of four. You’re not always going to be served something that is tailored to your tastes and traditions.

That being said, Bon Appétit has always been very open about receiving feedback from their customers. Take advantage of this—fill out comment cards. An even better way to do this is to build relationships with the people that swipe your cards and call your orders. They’re very nice people and want you to enjoy the food. I had a conversation with a café worker a few weeks ago about my disappointment regarding the removal of pretzel cones. Sure enough, within a week, they were back.

There’s also going to be adjustment because of the fact that you’re making your own dietary choices now. The freshman 15 is no joke—we are quite literally children in a candy store in our first few years. Most of us have tremendous difficulty resisting over-indulgence in the unhealthier options that we’re provided.

It might be hard to resist the temptation to make yourself a Belgian Waffle, especially when the meat is 90% fat and the broccoli is overcooked, but always be looking to balance your diet. Take advantage of the salad bar and the new made-to-order salads, as well. Also, it’s common to stick to the regularly served items, but the new dishes that are served daily might surprise you.

Don’t be afraid to occasionally eat off campus, either. You have already paid a lot of money for your meal swipes and culinary cash, but dining out is something you should allow yourself to do every so often, depending on your financial situation. Appleton has a variety of diverse and interesting restaurants that are fun to visit on a night out with friends.

It’s easy to blame Bon Appétit for your lack of dining satisfaction, and a lot of people do; but I encourage you to be proactive in the way you utilize the resources Bon Appétit provides, and also to put your expectations into perspective. Realize that we are fairly privileged in our access to good quality food. When you’re my age, you’ll probably even start to dread life without Bon Appetit—because grocery shopping with your own real money is definitely not as fun as it sounds.