When I applied via Early Decision to Wellesley, one of the selling points were the five dining halls. The website flaunts the diverse food in each hall; there are pictures of sushi, fresh fruit and so much more. Yet, I have seen each of these food items in the halls maybe once in my two years at Wellesley.
Now, after every long day of classes, I find myself deliberating between either a flavorful, greasy meal, or a healthy but comparatively tasteless option. It seems that even the dining hall workers are struggling with what to cook given the lack of resources provided to them. With the term system sucking the life out of us, all I want after another brutal day of essay writing and problem sets is a hot dinner. But here at Wellesley, a good food day looks like soggy pasta that contains a couple of droplets of sauce, small containers filled with salad that have two pieces of tofu, grilled cheese sandwiches and pizza dripping with oil. Or, instead, you could choose the “gourmet” half-cooked tofu-brown rice-brussel sprout combination and the beef slices dripping with fat.
Bad food days, on the other hand, look like mayo-banana salads as the vegetarian option. And I blame AVI Wellesley Fresh for not listening to students and making life impossible for dining hall workers.
If this was the menu once or twice a week, it would be fine. How on earth, however, are these “meals” what we’re supposed to survive on every single day? There are so few choices, and the quality of raw materials that AVI provides the dining hall workers and chefs with is poor at best. So many students go hungry because they simply cannot handle another day of choosing between the poorly budgeted greasy, oily “meals” and the sad excuse of a vegetarian meal that Wellesley Fresh feeds its students.
And I am angry about it.
As a school with a $2 billion endowment, Wellesley certainly has the funds to spare some more sauce for their pasta or add flavors to their salads. The tuition to attend Wellesley is no joke; however, it seems like the administration is not able to budget enough for basic condiments and nutritious food. Furthermore, Wellesley has made life a living hell for those who dare to ask to get off the meal plan. Often, I find myself eating salads with Hot Cheetos from a vending machine on the side just so that I can add some flavor to my meal. Students routinely skip meals when they cannot find anything in the dining halls, something that should not happen in general, and poses a particular issue for those who already have complicated relationships with food.
On the worst days, those of us who have the funds end up ordering some food from outside. Wellesley’s meal plan costs about $10-12 per meal, so why are we paying for that meal in addition to being forced to order out? I am certainly lucky to be able to afford the occasional meal through DoorDash or UberEats. What about those who cannot pay to eat anything but what the meal plan has to offer?
But all of this is to be expected from a school that is unable to treat their dining hall workers with any respect and dignity. The recent Wellesley News article “‘Racismo, Discrimen Y Corrupción’: Wellesley is Failing its Dining Hall Workers,” highlighted this mistreatment. With the pay cuts that our wealthy school issues regularly for employees and the often low-quality materials they choose to give their dining hall workers to make food with, it is no wonder that the students are suffering as well.
It is a vicious cycle; the administration and Wellesley Fresh’s lack of empathy has caused so many issues for both students and dining hall workers alike.
I am very upset about Wellesley’s inability to budget better for decent food. As a picky eater and someone who worries about my body excessively, I am simply appalled by how little the administration cares about my feelings. I know that many students have raised concerns, and yet nothing has been done about the food situation. Several of my own friends who suffer from eating disorders and related body issues have been getting sicker, and some may even be forced to take a leave of absence from school because the food is unable to support their recovery. And it is a well known fact that a lack of a decent diet increases depression rates. So why is the student body subject to this?
Simply put, I feel like Wellesley isn’t doing enough to make sure we have enough to eat. As if the rigors of the term system were not bad enough, we now have to worry about whether there will be food that our stomachs can handle on a daily basis. This puts us at a crossroads, where we end up eating unhealthily or starving. So to Wellesley’s administration: make the changes necessary to either feed us properly, or stop forcing us to eat the limited, often-unhealthy options on the current meal plan. It’s true that things have improved since the beginning of the semester, but for many students with specialized diets and without other dining options, those changes simply don’t go far enough to make sure we can meet our basic nutritional needs. Let us choose to be on the meal plan or choose a better option that involves budgeting for food properly. Because, Wellesley, we are miserable.