By Gerin Eaton ’15
Bon Appétit is invested in preserving the nutritional integrity of the food they serve: They refuse to use processed materials and may occasionally change entire daily menus to ensure that the more perishable food items do not go to waste.
A switch to a new food service provider has given a new look—and taste—to the student dining experience. More students are coming to the dining hall to eat more often, excited by the innovative changes of Bon Appétit.
From the introduction of fresh baked goods to dishes cooked from scratch moments before serving, the new provider, the first in more than 40 years, has begun to transform the dining experience at Cornell. The company emphasizes the incorporation of local, seasonal, and organic choices. Farm-to-Fork, for instance, is a company-wide initiative to purchase produce grown by regional farmers committed to sustainable farming practices. Bon Appétit is also invested in preserving the nutritional integrity of the food they serve: They refuse to use processed materials and may occasionally change entire daily menus to ensure that the more perishable food items do not go to waste.
The commitment to sustainability even led to a new coffee vendor in the Rathskeller, Tiny Footprint, a company whose contributions to the reforestation in Ecuador yields a net negative carbon-footprint.
Students are responding positively to these changes. Sophomore M.C. Cole of Clinton, Iowa, said, “There has been a vast improvement in the general quality of the food.”
Many recognize that there are more healthy and unique options to choose from, not to mention better presentation of the food. Sandra Cordero, a first-year student from Hawaii, similarly expressed her relief with the food offerings.
“Coming from Hawaii, I was unsure of what to expect,” she said. “But so far I have been happy with the availability of rice and other Asian food options.”
Of course, few great changes occur without challenges. Some students have also noted that the shift to more local and seasonal foods has resulted in less variety. But most are ready to take this in stride.
“There is less variety sometimes, but if that’s what it means to eat what’s in season, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make,” said senior Kim Meyer of Galena, Ill.
Moving into an active construction zone also hasn’t made the task any easier for Bon Appétit. “It has kind of been like trying to fit a round ball into a square hole,” observed Amy Zupanci-Herren, general manager of Cornell’s Bon Appétit branch, in reference to the difficulties posed by the renovations rapidly enveloping the Thomas Commons. And there are still more growing pains to be endured by Bon Appétit this year as entire sections of the dining hall and the kitchens go offline due to construction.
Growing pains aside, Bon Appétit has begun to establish itself as part of the Cornell experience. The company is developing a relationship with the student-run College and Community Garden, making good on their commitment to purchase some of the most local produce around. The company has also offered to help the garden expand to several plots on campus in order to bring the message of sustainability closer to home for more students.
Lunch, Thursday, Jan. 24
(V=Vegetarian, VG=Vegan, MWG=Made without gluten)
- Garlic and Herb Green Beans with Olive Oil (VG) (MWG)
- Crushed Tomato Marinara (VG) (MWG)
- Garlic Alfredo (V)
- Traditional Pasta (V)
- Chicken Pesto and Artichoke
- Ham, Bacon and Sausage
- Turkey, Bacon and Pepper Jack Melts
- Grilled Chicken Breast (MWG)
- All Beef Hot Dogs (MWG)
- French Fries (VG) (MWG)
- Sautéed Mushrooms (VG) (MWG)
- Sautéed Onions and Peppers (VG) (MWG)
- Buffalo Chicken Wraps
- Buffalo Tofu Wraps
- Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Fresh Basil, Champagne Vinaigrette (VG) (MWG)
- Tomatoes Stuffed with Quinoa, Olives, Cucumbers and Roasted Garlic (VG) (MWG)
- Scallion Potato Cakes (V) (MWG)
- Steamed Broccoli (VG) (MWG)
- Southwestern Corn Chowder (V)
- Three Bean with Bacon (MWG)