Cafeteria food has been the butt of jokes in my mind for as far back as my first comic book and the stereotypical depiction of the old scrawny Ms. Beazley. There is Chef from South Park and Barth form some kids show I used to watch.
Since the inception of cafeterias, displeased students have taken it upon themselves to find a hair, or a service worker to show their disappointment.
Up until college, I just came home for lunch, so my experience with cafeteria fare was limited to a visit to the Terry Fox Center in Ottawa.
My first experience with cafeteria food on a regular was as at College in Stephenville where meal cards were mandatory with residence fees. There was lots of complaints which I scoffed at. The food was plentiful and there was lots of it. In fact, I used to marvel at the complaints because I grew up on hard grub and never had a second or third choice of mains, salads and deserts. Seriously, I am sure 90% of us never had as much choice.
I suppose it can be mentally and physically painful to cope with food changes if you’re a picky eater, even more of a shock if your parents have always accommodated your food aversions. I hate what was on my plate - end of story.
I just figured complaining about cafeteria food is part and parcel of the residence experience but the current hysteria at Memorial has brought the reputation of cafeteria food to a new level.
Pictures on social media depicting allegedly rotten food served up to students and suggestions the grub on campus is responsible for hospital visits, dental surgery, and missed classes has resulted in a major food fight between students and Aramark.
The pictures in the media do not appear to reflect Ararmark's stated commitments on the Memorial Dining Services website:
"Aramark’s food safety processes and procedures are industry leading. We maintain rigid standard operating procedures for the entire flow of food production. This includes providing an environment that protects the safety and integrity of food from its delivery, throughout its storage, preparation, transport, and ultimately, to the point of service to the customer.
In addition to working with the local Health Department, who inspect our operations frequently, Aramark also conducts internal inspections to objectively evaluate our practices and ensure the utmost safety in our operations. We will continue to take all necessary precautions to ensure food safety and maintain a quality dining program for the entire Memorial University community."
Aramark is a multinational food services company employing 270,000 people. It is hard to imagine that a corporation with an international reputation and a commitment to rigid standards could find itself in this situation.
Memorial released a statement today indicating that a thorough food safety assessments have taken place, including daily food quality tests, and an inspection by the provincial Department of Health which have not shown any issues. Aramark is apparently in compliance.
Is this a case of mass hysteria and overblown news coverage or legitimate failures in quality control on the part of Aramark?