Cafeteria needs to improve quality and variety

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Most Luther students are required to live on campus which in turn requires a full meal plan. This leads to us primarily eating in the cafeteria during the school year. However, many Luther students are not happy with cafeteria food.

When we make these complaints, Dining Services often argues that it is hard to make food for around 2,000 people, especially since people have different tastes. However, the freshness of the ingredients and the variability of the menu in the Caf can be changed. 

Sodexo takes pride in providing the best and freshest ingredients for Luther — or at least that is what they claimed when a friend of mine complained. I bet we all have seen wilted lettuce and spinach or partially defrosted watermelon several times. Meat in the sandwich line is mostly processed meat, which is an unhealthy option for those students who can only eat in the Caf during its off hours.

Some students who have gotten sick from eating food in the Caf have contacted Residence Life in the hopes that complaints will provoke changes in the food prepared. Unfortunately, there have been no noticeable differences despite these reports occurring over a year ago.

Meanwhile, the sanitation of these ingredients is horrible. There are countless times when students have found bugs in the lettuce. The fact that Luther has not taken action to ensure the quality of the ingredients, which directly affects student health, speaks for itself.

Another major problem is the limited menu. Since my first year, the variety of the dishes has drastically decreased. More and more often, my friends have complained that there is nothing desirable to eat.

My first year, I remember having pho, pad thai, or shrimp soup every once in a while; tacos were pretty common. Sophomore year, turkey dishes seemed to replace many of these options. Junior year, I barely saw tacos and beef served; this year, even fish is a “fancy” meal.

Now, only two kinds of meat are usually served: pork and chicken, the cheapest types of meat. The recipes used to cook food are also repetitive. They serve roasted chicken, pulled pork, or stir fry most days. Students should be able to enjoy experiencing a wide range of food over the course of the semester.

“The fact that Luther has not taken action to ensure the quality of the ingredients, which directly affects student health, speaks for itself.”

-Linh Nguyen (‘18)

We pay a decent amount of money towards food services, especially considering it’s required for on-campus living. We make this concession towards required meal plans because we value the education and environment Luther promotes more.

However, if we keep leaving the Caf unsatisfied, this trade-off isn’t worth it. As the expenses to attend Luther increase, these factors become even more important to prospective students.

Of course, they may not notice this right away as the quality of food served during prospective student visit events is often better quality than what is typically served. But if Luther knows enough to change the quality of food served in the Caf specifically during visit days, doesn’t that mean that they are aware of the lower quality served every other day?

I have learned to accept the truth that Luther outsourced dining services to save money. However, this should not mean that the quality and variety of food we are served suffers for it.


Linh Nguyen (‘18)

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