Campus meals miss the Ara-Mark

Search online for Butler University’s dining options, and one of the first hits directs you to www.campusdish.com, Aramark’s campus dining website.

The home page is framed with a seductive quesadilla, juicy burgers and an apple so shiny it’ll burn your retinas.

So why don’t we see these dishes at Butler?

But the real problem isn’t a single dish, or even the kinds of stations that are offered.

Look at any successful restaurant. The best places don’t succeed because of huge variety, but because they do what they do very well.

Obviously, Atherton Union shouldn’t be replaced with a Burger King—some variety is a good thing.

But doing simple things well will lead to more satisfied munching and less confused staring. There’s enough of the latter already.

Think about how popular grilled cheese days are.

Listen in any of the cafeterias on campus, and it seems that many Bulldogs are complaining about the food. Check the comment boards, and the anonymous quotes can, on occasion, get openly hostile.

Students often are seen taking a first bite of a dish and promptly retiring it to the trash can.

On the first day of class, for example, I sampled a fish stick and immediately decided against ingesting any more of it.

It’s not all bad. Over the two years I’ve been here, there have been several improvements.

The dreaded coffee of last year has been replaced with Starbucks brews—and the contrast couldn’t be better.

There also have been some odd decisions, like the occasional tank of vegetable-infused water at the hydration station.

The point isn’t that cucumbers in ice are gross. To each his or her own. The problem with the food is not variety, or even necessarily execution.

It takes real skill and attentiveness to pull off a lot of the dishes that are served in the cafeterias. And then they sit under heat lamps.

Dining services has to balance taste with the demands of a lunch rush and the long crawl afterwards.

They have to cater to gluten-free, allergen-free, and vegetarian diets as well.

Stacey Puck, general manager of dining services for Aramark at Butler, understands a lot of student complaints.

“If I had to eat McDonalds 10 times a week, I’d get bored,” she said.

Puck said dining services has a captive audience but accepts as many suggestions as they can. And when they don’t, Puck says, they do their best to explain why they can’t.

Aramark’s culinary department releases a suggested menu for each station for every semester, Puck said.

They dictate which dishes should be served, but dining services can petition to change the menu.

So expect mashed potato bowl days to return to Atherton soon, Puck said.

If students want a better experience, Puck suggested a variety of ways that they can help to affect change in their dining options.

Send feedback to food@butler.edu or to Council on Presidential Affairs meetings (a part of Student Government Association) and fill out comment cards.

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