This past year, Knox Dining Services transitioned from its past dining services management to the current management under Bon Apptit. Though this transition is still underway, several of the changes made have caused significant discontent among Knox students.
Students were upset with the change in the Grab n’ Go, where students are able to obtain food or beverages when they are too short on time to sit and eat in the caf. Instead of being able to use multiple swipes at once and bulk up on snacks, students now must select one entree, two sides and one drink.
Sophomore Liv Peterson described the new system as one which provides fewer options for students and was put in place to save the college money rather than benefit the students.
“I feel like they’re going to make more changes that save them money,” Peterson said. “But it’s kind of at the expense of the students. It’s hurting us and saving them money.”
Because some students rely on such services for their daily meals, Peterson feels that the issue, though relatively small, is important to address.
Senior Noah Dina shared similar grievances about the changes to the Grab n’ Go. He feels that Knox Dining Services should think about changing it back for Winter Term.
“Not everybody has access to a vehicle to go off campus,” Dina said. “Not everybody has funds to be able to go buy food.”
Senior Andrew Richter also commented on how it seems as though the money is being spent on unnecessary decorations, rather than on expanding the food options available. He felt the opinions of students are not being taken into enough consideration.
“Students don’t think that their voices are being heard,” Richter said. “They think that maybe the school is pretending to listen to them.”
General Manager Diane Welker and Executive Chef Jason Crouch, who responded to TKS inquiry via email, ask that students contact either of them personally regarding issues encountered. They also mentioned that a plan for weekly meetings with the Dining Services Chair in Student Senate is being established, as well as a vegan/vegetarian committee.
Due to the changes, many of the students have attempted to reduce their meal plan and the amount of meal swipes they are to receive each term. Peterson unsuccessfully attempted to go off-board for the remainder of their Knox career.
“I tried to get off board before I even knew about all the changes, but they didn’t really let me do that,” Peterson said. “They said they’d reduce my scholarships if I tried to get off board.”
Dina also described an issue told to him by a classmate, where an allergy to a specific food caused her to fall ill due to inadequate handling of the food.
“She was eating the food and getting allergic reactions to it and later after asking about it, she found out that the food had been touching or had been mixed in the same bowl as something she was allergic to,” Dina said.
Though much of the blame for the changes is being placed on Bon Apptit itself, Vice President for Finance and Administrative Services Keith Archer clarifies that the changes are most often directed by Knox College.
Dina also noted that, while the problems that arose last year seemed to come from the hands of Bon Apptit, the issues that are present now are out of Bon Apptit’s control.
“There are definitely some financial things going on,” Dina said. “But I think Knox is kind of using Bon Apptit as a sort of scapegoat to place the blame.”
Archer asked for patience from students, as well as input from a broader range of students.
“This is a transition that began last year,” Archer said. “There are a lot of things to come as far as improvements to the facilities and things in that area.”
According to Crouch and Welker’s email, the management plans to provide additional training to the culinary team as well as further renovations to the facilities to improve the overall dining experience at Knox.
Dina feels as though the actual food is being cooked better, specifically noting the chicken.
Despite reassurance from Knox administrative staff, students remain somewhat skeptical regarding the fate of Knox Dining Services.