If one asks the average student at Kalamazoo College where they prefer to grab food on campus, history dictates a tendency for him or her to choose the Richardson Room, more commonly referred to as Stacks.
Where The Book Club has a limited variety of products that can quickly grow repetitive and Welles Dining Hall is known across campus for unreliable meal quality, Stacks’ numerous sandwich options and taste of product bring it to stand out as superior for many in the K community.
This is evident particularly during lunch hours, when long lines winding around the first floor of the Hick’s Center clearly demonstrate students’ preference for the meals at Stacks, even if the wait is considerably longer than at The Book Club or Welles, also known as the Caf.
Recently, however, rumors that Stacks only barely passed its last routine health inspection concern students about the quality and cleanliness of their food.
All of The Index‘s attempts to reach out to Kalamazoo College’s dining services for a comment on the validity of these rumors went unanswered, leaving these concerns unaddressed.
This uncertainty regarding something so vital as food safety may just bring students to lose what little faith they have remaining in the school’s ability to provide safe, healthy, and enjoyable meal options—something that Esma* K’20 knows especially well.
For many of us, finding the wrong kind of meat in our meal would be a mere inconvenience at best and an annoyance at worst. But for Esma, one of K’s Muslim students who can only eat pork-free meals, it is a major problem.
In her short time away from home—a little over a month—she claims to have eaten “more pork [at K] than in my entire 18 years of life” due to improper labeling of food products or a simple lack thereof. She recounts numerous instances of biting into what the label has claimed to be a sandwich containing only chicken or turkey, only to taste something else entirely.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to ask workers at the Caf, the Book Club, or Stacks what’s in something I’ve already eaten a little bit of when I should already know,” Esma says. “And most of the time, I find out it has bacon or ham in it.”
“I heard before coming here that food wasn’t the best part about K,” she said. “But it really upsets me that the school can’t even tell me what I’m eating, especially when it interferes with my religious views. It’s really frustrating, but at least it’s not a severe food allergy.”
In this, Esma voices an even larger concern that could spell further trouble for the college if this mislabeling problem is not soon fixed. Next time, it could be life threatening.
Editor’s note: names may have been changed.