As the semester winds down and the dining dollars start approaching the dreaded double zeros, some BC students choose to forgo some of the foods they normally indulge in or even ask their friends to pay for their food. Some people need to add hundreds of dollars on to their account to make it through the semester, while others have hundreds of dollars left over at the end of the semester. But one thing is constant: the complaints about BC Dining.
Yes, the dining hall food may seem overpriced. Yes, underclassmen have no choice but to buy into the dining plan. And yes, you may be stricken with “culinary fatigue” resulting from routinely eating the same foods. However once one realizes how much goes into providing quality food for thousands of students every day, a more positive opinion of BC Dining emerges. Looking into the dining experience, it quickly becomes evident that BC Dining provides quality food and convenient services that are not appreciated as much as they should be by the student body.
When we walk into the dining hall, the floor, bathrooms and tables (sometimes) are clean. Then venturing into the food serving area, there are more options than anyone would ever have at home, with special events nights intermixed. The food is hot when it needs to be, cold when it should be, and fresh like it’s expected to be. You may wait a little bit to get your made to order food, but isn’t that the case at home too? After paying for your meal, you grab clean silverware and search for a table. It may be hard to find and maybe you will need to sit close to a stranger. However, that will give you the chance to eat, drink, talk and think with someone new.
As you finish your meal and leave the dining hall, you simply dump your plate and silverware on a conveyor belt or on a cart to be taken away and cleaned for you the next day. You don’t have to clean the mess you make or the dishes you dirty. Do you think you could pay someone to buy, store, prepare, and cook your food your for $25 a day? And make sure where you eat is clean? And be open for upwards of 19 hours a day?
Each semester, every student that lives on campus in a dorm without a kitchen, has $2,328 of “Mandatory Dining Plan” money and $175 of “Mandatory Dining Bucks” to spend. If you ate on campus every day of the semester, never went home for any break, and even stayed until the last day of finals, you will have approximately $25 a day to spend.
Sure, no one keeps track of their dining bucks until fear of starvation sets in at the end of the semester. However, the amount of dining dollars per year and ultimately the amount billed to each student’s accounts are allocated for $25 a day. It may also seem unrealistic to only spend this much money, however if you budget your money you will find that $25 a day is more than enough.
The upperclassmen may have realized a slight increase in prices from last year to this year. That is not BC Dining trying to rip you off, instead it is a response to an increase in food prices. Wheat, milk and beef prices have skyrocketed. Because of the unpredictability of food prices and the huge upfront costs, BC simply cannot afford to refund students with the extra dining money they have on their account at the end of the year, as I learned from BC Dining Administrators Beth Emery and Michael Kann.
Roughly a third of the BC Dining costs go toward food prices, while another third goes to labor. A considerable chunk goes toward facility fees and labor benefits. The rumor that there is a $200 fee that BC allocates toward stolen food is not true. BC Dining is transparent about their costs and strives just to break even.
As most students have noticed BC Dining often hires disadvantaged and challenged community members, providing them with a learning environment that will help them grow. Although it may be inefficient from a cost standpoint, this is part of BC Dining’s mission, and to that point, Boston College’s. They also give the same health and insurance benefits to their full time employees as the BC professors receive. They pay a livable wage to their employees, $12.50 an hour and hire people of over 30 different nationalities, together speaking 42 different languages.
BC Dining is trying to implement programs that students enjoy. They value our opinion and want us to be satisfied with our food and dining experience. On the BC dining website one can find exactly what will be served at every dining hall, and the nutrition facts of each item. One can also find the special events, and other promotions they run.
As you start to complain about BC Dining, remember the scope of the work they do, the conveniences they give us, and that we have one of the best college dining programs in the country.