November 12, 2021 | NEWS | By Cameron Howell | Photo by Aida Hasson
If you wanted food on campus last semester, your options were Benjamin’s (Benji’s), The Preserve, or an apartment-cooked meal. Rastall Dining Hall wasn’t open, not even for grab-and-go options.
This year, dining hall normalcy has returned. To an extent, at least. Rastall has opened once again and the expo options in Benji’s and The Preserve have made their return. However, there are still some awaited changes such as increased hours and more food options.
Colorado College Senior Vice President Robert Moore told The Catalyst why there are some delays to a full return to normalcy.
“Bon Appetit, like most other food providers, is experiencing difficulties in hiring and retaining the staff they need in order to provide the depth and variety of food service options they would like to offer,” Moore said. “Their goal is to offer services similar to what was available in the 2019-2020 academic year as soon as it is possible.”
He elaborated and said there is no set time for when hours and food variety will increase, and that Bon Appetit has brought in staff from other locations to help the dining experience.
Currently, Rastall Dining Hall is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while Benjamin’s is currently serving lunch and dinner with some expo options. The Preserve began serving dinner expo options last Monday and hours have increased since then. Hours for each location can be found on the Colorado College website.
Shannon Wilson, the general manager of Bon Appetit at Colorado College, said in an email: “We are working very hard to return our services to pre-COVID hours and increase options for students around campus.”
Wilson explained that Bon Appetit is working to expand hours at the Preserve, and the next goal is to bring back the “authentic” station and sushi to Benji’s. “We have been able to hire and train new employees, so we are able to expand hours in some locations,” Wilson said.
Currently, Bon Appetit is experiencing staffing issues and product shortages. These staffing shortages have impacted meal hours, level of services, as well as offerings that Bon Appetit is usually able to make for students in non-pandemic times. There have been some cases in which product orders have not arrived or have been incomplete resulting in changes in meal planning.
“I have been in food service over 25 years, and I have never experienced staffing shortages to this extent,” Wilson said. “We are working hard to recruit more staff so we can continue to serve the Colorado College community at the level they have come to know and expect from us.”
Through all of this, students have a range of feelings toward Bon Appetit, mostly regarding the variety of food at this given moment.
“Even though they try to put in other cuisines, like they have Italian days or noodles or nachos, I feel like it’s very Americanized versions of them,” said Simay Cural ’24.
“As someone who’s vegan, they don’t provide enough options and it’s usually just like the same thing, day to day,” said Greer Harden ’23.
“They should serve a little more variety than just chicken and rice. I mean, it’s a classic, but like, a little bit more variety,” said Daon Hatzigiannis ’25, an almost daily diner at Rastall.
For any students looking for a way to have an influence on the meal options, Wilson asks that you fill out comment cards or send emails with your desires or feedback which can inform Bon Appetit about what the CC community is looking for in their meals.
Some students expressed that the food has actually improved since the 2019-2020 school year. “I think there are also more options; I’m allergic to gluten and I feel like the station has more options and is consistent,” said Grace King ’23.
According to King, the labeling for each station has also improved allowing her more insight into the potential food options she may be able to try for that meal.
Some suggestions mentioned by students include increasing the variety of food for those with dietary restrictions, keeping food out later than 7:30pm for those that attend dinner later in the evening, and having more fruit accessible for students during lunch and dinner.
Some students are aware of the staffing shortages and other COVID-19 related issues that may be creating a different than normal dining experience.
“I can even tell their staff changes consistently,” said Owen Rask ’24. “They have to be super specific about how they cook the food, make sure it’s all COVID safe, which is probably a nightmare and a half, and they have to make enough food for college students.”
Though each person has a different ‘taste’ for the dining situation on campus, and King sometimes thinks that it is a “bummer” to rely only on Rastall, she is aware that there are bigger issues going on beyond the school and Bon Appetit, and she encourages other students to reflect on their own privilege surrounding food and food accessibility.
“I think a lot, myself included, of CC students are used to having many options of food available at all times, which is a huge privilege that not every CC student shares.”