In theory, Wellesley Fresh’s Late Night options should be a supplement to traditional dinner meals, allowing sibs who missed that all-too-brief two-hour window to have a balanced meal before settling in. Located at Lulu and Stone-Davis dining centers, the program has hardly earned that reputation around campus, especially at Stone-D, which is known for serving “comfort food.” Instead, Late Night options feature a variety of fried and generally unhealthy foods, centered around the pizza and grill bars at each location. Though a never ending source of pizza, grilled cheese, and tater tots is alluring, sibs who miss normal dining hours are not afforded many options.
“I’d find myself just eating Greek yogurt for dinner,” says Kendall Lincoln ‘23.
A Stone-Davis resident, Lincoln, would often eat at Stone-Davis’ Late Night due to her fall varsity soccer practices, which ran from 4:30-7:00, four times a week. As someone who “definitely relied on late night,” she was dismayed by most of the “fried options” and wished “steamed vegetables [or] meat from dinner were left over.” Lincoln was not alone in this either, stating that most of her teammates struggled to find healthy meals as well.
Lincoln’s personal frustration with late night’s reliance on fried meals is echoed in a recent study from Harvard Medical School. According to the study, women “who ate one or more servings of fried chicken daily were 13% more likely to die prematurely from any cause,” and were “12% more likely to die from heart-related causes.” Though Wellesley Fresh’s meals are not as homogenous, there is still a correlation between eating fried foods often and later health complications later in life.
Despite these statistics and growing concern among students, Wellesley Fresh seems less inclined to remedy Late Night’s issues. Only having worked three weeks at Wellesley, David Parisi, Wellesley Fresh’s new Culinary Director, knew little of the late night program but could touch on Wellesley Fresh’s priorities for this upcoming semester. Parisi was most focused on the efficiency of operations. He hopes to eliminate the long lines that plague Bates’ salad bar station.
Still, Parisi did seem receptive to student feedback and mentioned that he frequently asks students about their meals when off-duty. He expressed adamant concern when I mentioned nutrition, immediately interjecting, “there should be a balance of healthy and tasty foods at all locations.” He frequently mentioned how his plans to increase efficiency could interplay with “more composed dishes featuring vegetables,” referencing the obvious health benefits, as well as vegetables being more filling, cost-effective and in demand by students.
As we adjust to the tumult of a new semester and dining centers recuperate under changing management, it’s hard to imagine any immediate changes being made to the late night program. Yet, the promise of progress under new management at Wellesley Fresh can inspire optimism in even the most healthy of skeptics. If feedback from students and a commitment to nutrition are actually being championed by Wellesley Fresh, steamed vegetables could join our usual late night lineup of pizza, grilled cheese, and tater tots.