Parr: Five reasons why dining halls rock

So much negativity surrounds the stereotypical college dining hall. I’ve heard “this food sucks” way too many times on this campus—I don’t agree with that statement, and I’m tired of hearing it. These five reasons are why I think the dining halls at Case Western Reserve University are actually pretty good.


  1.   The French Fries. This is legitimate. I’ll admit, I’ve had way too many of them—which is fantastic for my soul, but one could argue, bad for everything else. But everything is great in moderation. They’re delicious, they’re meaty—you know, in the potato sense—and they’re seasoned—see reason one.
  1.   The variety of food choices. Every time I go to Leutner Commons, the options at the majority of stations change. There might be a baked potato and toppings bar, or there might be five creatively different types of pizza at one station. You also have the tried-and-true favorites that are staples to the hall; I don’t know what I would do without the option of grilled cheese at the grill station everyday.
  1.   The rooms and plethora of seating options. We get to eat in a big, aesthetically pleasing room. The amount and variety of seating options accommodate whether you want to sit alone or with a big group of friends. Want to look out of a window? Okay, here’s an entire wall of window. Want to study without distractions? Here’s a seat conveniently facing a nice yellow wall—get to work!
  1.   Fresh ingredients and different recipes. There are always fresh, whole vegetables on ice as garnishes for the various stations with dips and salads—then again, I eat tomatoes like apples, so I’ve enjoyed this rarity of freshness a lot. As far as what’s actually inside the food goes, the chicken noodle soup I had for lunch the other day was absolutely bursting with colorful, fresh ingredients. I’ve also come out of the dining halls multiple times having learned of new dishes—I applaud the cooks for thinking outside the box to educate us and give us new things to try.
  1. The food is seasoned. All too often you go to places to get a good meal and the food is unbelievably bland. It is as if the cook thinks he will offend someone by putting salt in the food. I say, take the chance. The food in Leutner has always been seasoned, in my experience. Nothing—not the grilled chicken, the soups or the ready-made salads—lacks the right amount of salt and pepper and spices, which makes for a delicious, tastebud-titillating experience.


Of course nothing is perfect; the chocolate milk has been MIA a few times, to my despair. Everything has its good and not-so-good days, but the dining options we have at CWRU really are great. Also, consider what they could be: When my parents went to college, the food choices weren’t anything to think about—it was food, it was an energy source, and it wasn’t this huge ordeal people make college dining out to be today.

Maybe the food isn’t like what you ate at home, maybe you went to a dining hall on an off day. But the chefs and staff work tirelessly seven days a week to give us the best food they can. Be grateful, be thankful, smile at them.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion—that’s why I’m asking you to think about these five things the next time you step into a dining hall. There’s nothing wrong with breaking the stereotype of bad college food.
Sarah Parr is a first-year student with plans to write for every section of The Observer.