Are students satisfied by Bon Appetit?

Matthew Mitterhoff

By Matt Mitterhoff ‘16 & Samantha Praman-Linton ‘16 | Collaborative Reporters

Photo by Ally Hill ‘15 | The Lafayette

As students returned from summer break, they noticed a major difference in campus life: the presence of a new food service provider, Bon Appetit.

Bon Appetit became Lafayette’s food provider in July after Lafayette Dining Services decided to revamp the students’ dining experience, searching for more of a communal atmosphere in dining halls, for more sustainable initiatives, and for healthier. The company was chosen by the Food Service Task Force, a committee assigned to finding and vetting all possible food providers, over other companies such as Parkhurst, Aramark, and the incumbent Sodexo.

“People…want things to be better,” Associate Vice President of Finance and Business Operations Kari Fazio said back in March when asked why Lafayette was searching for a new food provider. Fazio was the chair of the Food Service Task Force. “‘Better’ is defined a little bit differently for each [person]. That’s the challenge that as a task force we kind of have to weigh…all those various definitions of ‘better,’ and come up with a way to hopefully make everybody feel a sense of satisfaction and improvement.”

On the sustainability front, Bon Appetit seems to be living up to its potential. Though some Lafayette students had created sustainability guidelines for what they wanted to see done by the new food provider, Bon Appetit’s own criteria fit Lafayette’s standard, and, at times, raised it.

“Most of those guidelines were either the same or better than the ones that we had written,” Monica Wentz ‘16 said. Wentz is a member of Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection (LEAP) and was one of the students leading the sustainability initiative. “They’re doing a very good job, in my opinion, showing [where they get their] food and following through with what they said they wanted to do with our school.”

“[Bon Appetit] had a list of ten farms that they were already planning on going to talk to before they even got the proposal, and since getting that proposal, especially over the summer, they went and talked to numerous different farmers around the area. One of the farmers down at the Farmers’ Market actually talked to me about them coming to talk to [him].”

From student reactions, it seems like the Food Service Task Force completed their job.

Shyla Watson ‘15 said that she “appreciates the changes to Lower [Farinon] as far as the quality, it’s much healthier.” She also believes that students are able to “get a lot more with meal equivalency now in Lower,” referencing up to four add-ons that students can get with a meal equivalency selection.

“It feels like I am actually getting my money’s worth,” she said.

There are criticisms of the new culinary regime. Gone are the Pop Tarts and Hershey bars of Sodexo’s tenure in Lower Farinon. The sweet-tasting mainstays have been replaced by more wholesome foods such as kale chips and pumpkin butter. Changes in snack foods have invited negative responses from students.

A Bon Appetit employee in Lower Farinon claimed to have witnessed students walk in, find no junk food and express their displeasure by proclaiming they were heading to Wawa and Walmart in search of other options.

But the prepared foods appear to be satisfying students.

“I’m extremely happy,” Brian Cantor ‘15 said. Cantor interned over the summer with Dining Services. “The food is fresher, the menus are more inventive, the workers seem happier – the workers can have more creativity over what they make – the food is more sustainable, so I feel better eating it. Compared to what Sodexo had, it’s a different product, so you’re going to have the all-natural crackers, [and] they’re going to be more expensive than just regular saltines.”

“I know Lower’s menu extremely well, and the prices are fairly comparable, in terms of the grill.”

Cantor is optimistic for the future.

“Right now, Bon Appetit’s in the stage of seeing what Lafayette wants. They started out by guessing certain things…but they’re still in the phase of learning what they can do to cater towards the school. Over time, we’re going to see changes, it just depends on student feedback.”