Students Share Opinions on Food at BeHeard Forum

By KC Mautner ’12 & Abby Volkmann ’13Co-Editor-in-Chief & Photo Editor

At the SAS BeHeard Forum on Oct. 26, the Food Committee addressed sustainability, vegetarian dining, costs and the environmental impact of Scripps’ dining hall, Malott Commons. SAS President India Mullady (’11) introduced the Forum, first covering general SAS issues. Mullady noted that the Student Union is open to all students, though SAS is still working on taking care of a few remaining challenges, including supplying printer paper and fixing the television, which is currently out of service. There are plans for the Scripps administration to assess the Student Union at the end of the semester, to ensure that resources have been and continue to be utilized judiciously.

The Food Committee, led by Representatives Nora Bright (’11), Catherine Schetina (‘14) and Morgan Mayer-Jochimsen (’13), then began the discussion on the specifics of Malott Commons and food at Scripps. Bright and Mayer-Jochimsen first opened the discussion by speaking about food transparency—in other words, where the food comes from and what exactly goes into it. They noted the limited vegan and organic fare at Malott.

Students had proposed instituting a day in which Malott would only serve sustainable or locally grown fare. While this idea has received considerable support, the only way to attain the funds necessary for such a day would be foregoing meat products in the dining hall that day. The student representatives emphasized that having sustainable/local fare is dependent on cutting down on other parts of Malott’s budget—students have to decide what they are willing to sacrifice. For example, one proposal was foregoing eggs, and using the money saved to implement a raw food bar. However, this proposal would signify the end of Scripps’ famous cookies, which use eggs as a key ingredient. Differences in tastes among students also are a factor in trying to decide what food to have and what food to forego.

A student at the Forum noted that Malott doesn’t cater specifically to Scripps students, but rather to 5C students more generally. She gave Scripps’ steak night as a prime example, which often draws more students from the other 5C’s than Scripps students. Malott—as do the dining halls from the other 5C’s—gets paid from the other colleges when their students eat here, so it automatically has an incentive to cater to students from the other 5C’s. However, another student at the Forum noted that many Scripps students also enjoy steak night, so to characterize it as a solely profit-earning venture aimed at students from the other colleges is not necessarily correct.

Toward the end of the Forum, students voiced their opinions regarding what they would like to see more of in Malott, including more varieties of bread, natural peanut butter, whole grain pasta, vegan desserts and steamed vegetables, rather than ones cooked with oil. At the end of the Forum, Mullady reiterated the importance of remembering that, although there will inevitably be complaints about the dining hall, the staff at Malott continues to work hard, and Malott’s new executive chef, Brandon Barousse, is creating sustainability initiatives and making more products from scratch. If students have concerns about food at Malott, their best bet is to tell the kitchen staff what they do like, so the staff can then use those cooking techniques and recipes to make other food items. The next SAS BeHeard Forum will be held on Tuesday Nov. 30 at the Motley. Students who attend and participate will receive a free Motley drink.