The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Dining Steering Committee lands on new supplier finalists

Dining Services at Bucknell have been a controversial topic for many years. Though upperclassmen have few qualms with the Bison Cafe located on the ground floor of the ELC, underclassmen and dining-dollar-budgeters seem to have always had quite a bit to say about the quality of the offerings in Bostwick Dining Hall, referred to colloquially as “the Caf.” 

Some of these comments arise from practical limitations faced in the Caf—take, for example, Hayden Pugh ’27, who has gluten, nut, and soy allergies, among others. His particular combination of allergies prevents him from being able to have most, if not all, of the food offered in Bostwick’s “allergy friendly” zone. When he’s tried to have any of the food offered in the main area of the Caf that claims not to be contaminated with any of his allergens (ie, the fries, or the soft serve), he’s experienced allergic reactions.

Pugh’s issues stem from, in his words, the “very limited selection of foods [from the] start.” For those with allergies, he says, “it only gets more limiting, [because] the Caf does not provide sufficient variety” in allergen-friendly foods, “even though it is marketed to do so.” And even outside of the supposedly allergen-friendly offerings, he’s disappointed in the level of quality present at even the “small[est] sampling of food.” 

“Nothing about the Caf is fresh or farm grown,” Pugh laments. He’s even “resorted to eating out at fast food places,” as well as buying the slim selection of allergen-friendly foods available at the local Giant supermarket—a huge hit to his budget, made all the more frustrating because of the “good money” he paid for the meal plan. In the future, as Bucknell evaluates these new Dining Services contenders, Pugh hopes that more consideration will be given to the plight of those with allergies that are a little more complex than being solely gluten free, and that the quality of all food(s) offered in the Caf improves drastically.

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Other students advocate for variety, as well, but with far less weight. Abby Wrightsmith ’27 simply wants Mountain Dew to be added to the available soft drinks in the Caf. 

But some feel the Caf is doing alright, for a college dining hall. Eliza Horne ’27 “really like[s] eating at the Caf,” and has “no major issues with it.” Her largest hope is that to-go cups will become more readily available, because she likes taking drinks with her to her classes.  

After taking the time to hear these student voices, the Dining Steering Committee, composed largely of University employees, began the long process of vetting provider replacements. They worked with Envision Strategies to narrow down the list, choosing only the best fits for Bucknell’s campus to continue on in the process.

The results of these concerted efforts are now being seen—three finalists for the new dining supplier on campus have been identified! Aramark, Chartwells and Harvest Table will each be coming to the Terrace Room in their respective order at noon on March 5, 6 and 7 to present a selection of foods to the first 50 in-person attendees. An additional viewing stream will be available via Zoom. To submit questions for the finalists, or to get more information about these “tasting sessions,” the Dining Steering Committee encourages all students to visit the Dining Partner Selection category available on their myWeb page. 

Bucknell Student Government played a small role in this extended revamping process, but representatives from the executive team as well as the Dining Committee hope students will participate in these open discussions and opportunities as much as possible. 

“Now is the time to have your input seriously considered in the dining services arena,” Eliza Morris ’26, Vice President of Administration, announced to the BSG Congress this past Sunday. “Show up, let them know what you think.”

For students who have been pleading for changes to the Caf for so long, this is the best opportunity to make sure the end result is as palatable—no pun intended—as possible. As Morris says, “If students show up to events like these that are designed to hear student voices, the outcomes will be much better for us, and administration is more likely to keep asking for our input.” 

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Lyndon Beier, Assistant News Editor

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