Friday, February 23, 2018

In defense of Chartwells and the service they provide on campus

Peter Ganem ’15

Contributing Writer

Chartwells, by far the most hated company with a presence on campus, has been wrongly outcasted by our student body. I believe that the student body should embrace the company by its worth, yet students resolve to pressing outlandish comments and ignorant notions. These notions are only predicated upon false thought and negative mindsets. We focus on what we do not have rather than what we should appreciate: workers who are friendly, encouraging and fulfilling to even some of the most ridiculous requests by students, a comforting path to nutrition, and sense of altruism that our student body had never realized.

To remain focused, I want to look more deeply into food service at Mather, as it seems to be the most popular visit for students in search for a hearty meal. Which brings about the first ignorant thought I feel needs to be addressed; students do not get sick from the food they claim to be old and gross at any of our eating location options. Students get sick from not getting their nutrition, by calling a bag of Doritos breakfast and the midnight drunken pizza dinner. We get sick from out college lifestyle, which is completely appropriate given the amounts of stress we are subjected to throughout the semester. We get sick from stress. We get sick from all-nighters in the library. We get sick from “rando” hookups in the “trinning” nightlife. Although, what is not appropriate is to simply blame Chartwells for making us sick and tired; we do that to ourselves. What we can blame Chartwells for is providing us comfortable means for nutrition with various options for each type of eater. Whether you might be a vegetable freak, meat-head, or a hound for fats, cheese, and sweets, spots like Mather and the Bistro provide various options with the Cave giving us the atmosphere of convenience  for a quick meal.

Here lies the opportunity for me to tackle another negative outlook created by our student body. All food service options here on campus, in fact, have an abundance of variety. If one came in to Mather every day picking the same grilled chicken or vegetable stir fry to eat there is no right to complain about lack of variety for nutrition. You have the choice to not eat grilled chicken everyday. It is simply the students’ prerogative not to expand their outlook what other choices might be offered. Take a chance; try the Kosher Department. Have a nicely prepared and tossed different salad. Personally, I love the options I have at Mather and wouldn’t ever trade a nice hearty meal prepared by their chefs for that rushed morning bag or chips or drunken pizza dinner around midnight. It’s hard for myself to picture anybody who would prefer to not consider the  nutritious but friendly environment or food service options.

In addition to the healthy options we see at all our dinning options I urge to dispel any rumors of the recycling of food to the point where it may be hazardous to our health. Take for instance the refilling of the salad bar in Mather daily. In deeper notice a tag of each bag pulled from the refrigerator labels each vegetable with the date of which it was first used to monitor their health life. How different is this from sticking a styrofoam box of leftover from dinner at Blueback Square or Trinity Restaurant into your fridge to store for dinner  or lunch the next day? Would this get you sick? Of course not. This ignorant notion that food is recycled to a point where our student body is getting sick can only be proven when it actually provides a larger group of students getting sick. Due to complaints of a lack of variation I can only assume that we are all mostly eating the same meals. Therefore, one or two students who obtain sickness from what they believe to be from the food service on campus is ridiculous. Especially, given the business of how students take care of themselves on campus.

The sense of care provided by Chartwells Executive Chef Edwards and others dismisses any idea that Chartwells might also be cheap or absence of the thought for others. I can’t help but wonder how many students on campus actually know of what is done with the extra meals we don’t use within the week. I also wonder how many students on campus know of the Community Kitchen Project by Chef Edwards himself. Last semester I spent every other friday afternoon cooking in the back of Mather a bevy of various meats, starches and vegetables donated by Chartwells Services. The Community Kitchen Program on campus brings this food to various churches and homeless shelters in downtown Hartford. There is no reward or stipend, only altruism.

My Sunday mornings and Thursday nights are highlighted by superstars at the grill like Rashima and Ed, who deal with tons of students who might want steak, salmon, eggs or even egg whites always accompanied by a bevy of fresh vegetables. Everyday I come in with my various dirty water bottles there is always an employee happy to wash them for me. There is always an employee ready to ask me about my day and offer their smiling face. The most well known Chartwells staff on campus are recognized for their positive nature.  The student body tends to forget about gems such as Olga at the front register who continuously provides positive outlooks while she swipes our cards. Her friendly disposition always takes away from the next reading or paper I had to finish after dinner that night. Head Executive Chef Keith Edwards amongst other such as Toby Chenille, only adds to the bright outlook you can find at Mather. Edwards could be one the most cheerful decent men I have ever met. I can’t understand why he has such care for the students he prepares meals for given our unappreciative nature. He just does. I cannot speak for the students who feel as though they have been rudely treated by employees in our dining services. I cannot speak for their proposed situation. The only thing I can speak for is the way that these people should be treated no matter the situation. Our student body is held to certain expectations we must meet at a school as prestigious at Trinity College. There is no reason for the slander of Chartwells reputation on campus, no matter how “rude” one might think an employee has treated them. We most hold ourselves to what Trinity College embraces. In no way shape or form does that include speaking negatively behind the back of people who work so hard to provide us with food we need to survive on campus. I am sick of hearing about how Trinity College gets the short end of the stick, as compared to other NESCAC schools. It is time our student body learns to focus on appreciation of the great people we have serving us, rather than what we perceive to be missing out on.

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