The Editorial Board is calling on Yale Hospitality to expand its dining options in regards to the food provided and where meal swipes can be used.
One vital component of Yale Hospitality is its ability to provide adequate meal options to people with religious and allergy based dietary constraints. Although Yale Hospitality is constantly working to meet the needs of these students, the Editorial Board believes that current attempts to do this fall short. One example of this is in regards to kosher meals.
Slifka, the kosher dining hall at Yale, is a great option for Yalies who keep kosher. However, this is the only option on a Yale meal plan with truly kosher items. Many religious students don’t feel comfortable using other dining options because of the lack of clear delineation between kosher and non kosher food. Oftentimes, kosher options are sandwiched between obviously not kosher meats or food combinations: think kosher chicken next to a pork roast or meat and cheese dish. Students have additionally experienced difficulty bringing kosher food into residential dining halls due to confusion regarding Yale Hospitality’s policy banning food purchased outside of the dining hall, creating an extremely isolating experience for religious students. Regardless of what we like to eat, connection with those around us — whether or not they share our religious beliefs — is what makes a Yale experience all the more special.
This experience of finding dining halls lacking in accessible food options is also common for those who adhere to a halal diet and even for those who are vegetarian, vegan or have restrictions due to allergies.
Food that aligns with a student’s religious or personal needs should be a basic right on Yale’s campus. Students’ needs should be respected by Yale Hospitality administrators and staff.
This is why it is so important to allow for student feedback on dining options. Hearing suggestions directly from the students who are impacted by these dining restrictions is the only way that Yale Hospitality will be able to ensure the food it puts out is accessible for everyone on campus.
This is why the Editorial Board encourages Yale Hospitality to diversify its feedback opportunities by placing suggestion boxes in dining halls and sending out periodic surveys asking students about their favorite and least favorite meal options. Data from these surveys can help to cater to student requests and prevent food waste. Some dining halls leave manager business cards at the desk, but students may be wary of providing negative feedback to staff since they do not want their feedback to be misinterpreted as disrespect for the hard work and long hours that Yale Hospitality staff put in. For these reasons, an enhanced, anonymized, regular feedback system would improve student satisfaction and make meal preparation more cost-effective, efficient and environmentally sustainable.
On top of being more receptive to student feedback on meal options, allowing students to use their meal swipes at more locations will provide students with access to a larger variety of food options.
Yale Hospitality boasts more than 15 different retail venues outside of the 14 residential college dining halls for students, faculty, and staff to patronize. Locations such as the Elm, Ramen at Becton and Ivy pride themselves on their accessibility through flexible hours and vast selections, yet their policies of only accepting credit cards or dining points constrain the many undergraduate students who rely on the full meal plan option. In order to make these options more accessible to the whole student body and give students a wider array of choices in the food they eat, the Editorial Board is calling on Yale to allow these locations to accept meal swipes.
The Editorial Board also proposes that students on the full plan should have 21 swipes per week to use at their own discretion, rather than a single meal swipe per time slot. This greater flexibility in how students are able to utilize their meal swipes will allow for the full meal plan to work with more students’ schedules.
Furthermore, Yale currently requires all undergraduates residing on campus to have either the Full or Flex meal plan. The Full Plan includes 21 meals a week and 5 guest swipes per semester, while the Flex Plan includes 14 meals a week, as well as 10 guest swipes and 300 dining points per semester. Despite their obvious differences, both cost $3,975 this academic year. The Editorial Board believes a meal plan with less purchasing power should in turn cost less, reflecting the price of what it provides.
In recommending these changes the Editorial Board recognises that dining at Yale is more inclusive than at many other schools, even if students would consider Forbes’s claim that “Yale Students Enjoy the Best Food of Their Young Lives” as a bit extreme. What we hope to offer in this article is not to discount what we have, but instead to encourage the University to continue working towards more inclusive options. Having access to food that meets a person’s needs and preferences is an essential component of making Yale a home for all students.