The Keene State Dining has been facing backlash for the recent incidents of students finding different kinds of bugs in their food.
KSC Dietician Whitney Hightower sent a statement on behalf of KSC Dining Director of Operations Bonnie Blanchard to The Equinox saying that they are committed to the health and safety of students and “consistently serving the best quality food.” In the statement, they also said they were aware of the experience in which one student found a worm in their soup at one of the dining locations.
Since the statement, there have been a handful of other students who have also found bugs in their food, including a ladybug, an ant and a small beetle.
The main concern The Equinox had with the email statements was the denial to release the list of vendors the Dining Commons got the food from for “privacy reasons.”
The Equinox thinks that transparency to KSC students about where the food they are eating comes from should be a priority. Additionally, The Equinox feels that “privacy reasons” isn’t a good enough reason to not provide an explanation to the students eating tainted food.
Transparency should be prioritized out of respect for how much students are paying for tuition, room and board on campus. The average price of the Keene State College meal plans is $2,172, with first-year students required to get the most expensive, unlimited DC entry plan. The Dining Commons, for a majority of students, is how they eat and sustain themselves. It’s only fair to tell us where the food is coming from, especially if there are recurring issues.
A situation like this can be anxiety-inducing for students who have meal plans and eat on campus. KSC has four dining options, two of which are only available in select hours of the day and two require Meal Plan Dollars for their selection. If students are out of or low on money, they have to resort to the DC, which has had complications lately. Having limited options combined with the recent bug issues, can be difficult for students to be able to rely on their daily meals.
When it comes to the reluctance about disclosing the vendors, The Equinox does not see any reason that students shouldn’t know exactly where their food comes from. Students with allergies and food sensitivities, especially, need to be aware of what is being put on their plates. Being able to research the growing and production process of the food the vendors provide, for some students, is crucial to having a safe and healthy life on campus.
Keene State College is a public institution and if KSC Dining isn’t going to publicly list its vendors, they should be readily available and accessible upon request. This privacy and secrecy isn’t appropriate when multiple students have found bugs in their food.
There is already a stereotype around college dining and how the food is going to be far from five stars, but this seems like a situation that requires special attention and action that should be disclosed to students. In the unfortunate situation that a student actually ate the bug in their food, they might be at risk for health issues or illness.
The statement made by the DC felt canned and routine. All the students ask for is genuine care for the food they are eating on a daily basis because at this point how they receive, clean, prepare and serve the food is not working.
“Privacy reasons” isn’t a good enough explanation to keep information from the students that are eating DC, everyday, multiple times a day. If KSC Dining meant when they said they are dedicated to the well being of the students, they would create a transparent, trusting and reliable relationship with the campus.