The Marketplace. A place to hang out with your friends and to grab a bite to eat everyday in the Brossman Commons. However, have you ever tried to take food to go? Dining Services has rules about students taking food from the cafeteria, and they are a bit severe. When asked, a few students said they had previously been caught taking a sandwich or another food item and were subsequently given a warning not to do it again. However, many students believe that since they pay for a meal plan, they should be able to take the remainder of their meal with them. Isn’t not doing so just a waste of food?
Meal plans A, B and C each cost $2,125 per semester and for students that are residents, it is mandatory to have one of these plans. There is no way to avoid the huge expense, unless you live off-campus. Each meal plan gives you a specific number of meals and Jay bucks. Some students argue that they should be able to take a sandwich from the Marketplace, because one sandwich at the Jay’s Nest can cost anywhere between three to five dollars. When they do not have many Jay bucks, it becomes hard to budget. On the other hand, students can purchase more Jay bucks if they run out and do not want to charge anything to their account.
When trying to contact Dining Services about their thoughts on the waste of food or students taking food, director Eric Turzai declined to comment. Luckily, Dan Barnes was able to talk about what goes on behind the scenes in the Marketplace. Barnes has been employed with Elizabethtown College’s Dining Services for seven years and is in charge of the dishroom and potroom. He believes that the kitchen makes food for about 2,100 people a day. One pound of food feeds seven people, but not all of it gets eaten. When asked if food was wasted too often because students are unable to take food out, he said, “I think students see lots of options in the food, and end up not eating it all.” While working in the dishroom, he sees all the food wasted go in the pulper or garbage. Around 300 pounds of food is wasted daily.
In the student handbook, which every student receives as a first-year, there is a section about the Marketplace Theft Policy. It states, “Students caught stealing from the Marketplace will receive a written warning. Upon a second offense Students Rights and Responsibilities will be notified and a written warning will be placed in the disciplinary file. A third offense will be sent directly to the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities.” Barnes thinks that Dining Services might be trying to control costs. However, other Etown students think that the rules may be a bit outlandish.
There are some differences between just grabbing a bagel on your way to class and throwing a bunch of cereal into Ziploc bags because you have run out in your dorm. Meal plans can have anywhere from 80 to 220 meals. Sometimes, students do not use up all of their meals, and they do not transfer over into the next semester
Sophomore Daria Hammet said, “Last year I had about 80 plus meals left which went to waste, and the College made money off of that. So I think it is ok when I am there to take an ice cream cone, cookie, or sandwich here and there.” Other students feel that if they bought the meal plan, they should be able to take the food. Sophomore Evan Todd said, “I pay too much for my meal plan and then I am required to eat it in there.”
The Marketplace is an all-you-can-eat facility, but there is a catch. It says in the handbook, “You may eat as much as you like, inside the Marketplace.” Each visit removes one meal swipe. One meal swipe is equal to about $10.25. Even if you do not use all of your meal swipes, you will still pay the price of using all of them. Students are given the choice when choosing meal plans to either have a lot of Jay bucks, or to have enough meal swipes to last them all semester. When asked, many students said they thought things in the Jay’s Nest were too expensive, and that they want to get sandwiches quickly before class from the Marketplace without getting a warning.
The Marketplace is not completely ridiculous for making these rules. However, the rules should just be for not taking entire meals. If you are taking Ziplocs or take-out containers and stuffing them with food, then yes, the staff members have a right to say that you are stealing. But taking a snack, a sandwich or even something as simple as an ice cream cone should not be a problem. There is no reason to stare down people leaving with food in their hands like they are criminals. If you cannot even comment about it, then maybe you place the blame on the wrong person.