At this week’s SGA meeting, Barnard Dining covered many pressing topics concerning students’ dining needs.

Hi friends! Happy tumultuous Tuesday! There’s nothing better than good ol’ SGA coverage for a pickup as we return post-Thanksgiving! 

This Monday, SGA discussed Barnard Chartwell dining services with Director of Retail Operations and Campus Dietitian, Carly Erskine and Resident District Manager, Livia Drake. Read on to have all your spicy questions answered and remember you can always join SGA’s open meeting portion to personally ask your questions!

Starting with external announcements: 

  • Emily Ndiokho (BC ‘22): Fill out the Desserts After Dark survey! It’s available till December 8th and it’s a quick survey, and you get a yummy dessert after! Emily also wanted to remind everyone that SGA has office hours. Office hours will be held every Tuesday from 12 to 2 pm in the SLC, Diana 101, (aka the room in Liz’s Place).
  • Bannon Beall (BC ‘23): Barnard students can now use single-use take-out containers at Columbia dining halls. Barnard will be absorbing the cost, so if you have any questions or issues at all, email Bannon. Also, join the Food and Dining committee! 
  • Myesha Choudhury (BC ‘23): Join the junior class committee! 
  • Emily Lan (BC ‘24): Get your flu shot and booster! It’s super easy and I promise it won’t be that painful.
  • Miso Kim (BC ‘22): Desserts After Dark! Also, come to the Tree Lighting Event on December 2 for some yummy hot chocolate and awesome acapella performances.

Now moving to the presentation given by Chartwell food services! The presentation clearly showed that Barnard truly cares about its students and responds positively to feedback. At Hewitt, the hours of operation have expanded, there’s a new vegan station (Innovation Kitchen), there are increased vegan and avoiding gluten options, and more, all of which has been motivated by student feedback. When you dine at Hewitt, there are multiple options to provide feedback including through the Dine On Campus at Barnard feedback form and through the interactive tablet where you can share your thoughts on your dining experience and any suggestions to improve the experience. 

However, Barnard Dining has been receiving many complaints about food access with regards to meal swipe confusion, largely due to vendor distribution issues. Because of COVID-19, certain foods aren’t being consistently delivered so to prevent running out of food, points are used. Essentially, when there is less of a certain ingredient Chartwell is switching to points to ensure there’s enough food. Additionally, Hewitt is the only all-you-care-to-eat option on Barnard’s campus, whereas students have access to Diana, Peets, and Liz’s for a retail dining experience. 

One particular concern is the portion sizes at Diana and other dining halls on campus. Erskine shared that the average portion size in 2019 was at 12 oz but after complaints about portion sizes, Barnard increased the portion size to 14 oz. Following more negative student feedback regarding portion sizes, the portion has now been increased to 20 oz. Erskine then shared information on the one-on-one nutritional counseling services that are offered at Barnard for those with concerns about food allergies, medical-related dietary restrictions, dining accessibility, healthy eating, and more. If you’re interested, contact CARDS and set up an appointment. Additionally, as part of Barnard’s initiative to improve campus wellness, Hewitt has created initiatives with monthly themed foods to encourage students to spend more time on campus. During November, the theme was wellness where an Apple Watch was given away, and during the Thanksgiving meal, students were given hot chocolate, raffles, and games! 

Monalisa Prasad, the Director of Sustainability at Barnard Dining, then spoke on the use of compostable containers to reduce carbon emissions and fight food waste, which will be further expanded on in the Q&A! 

Emily Ndiokho (BC ‘22): Meal swipes at Diana change often which is oftentimes confusing. How come there is always so much variation in the meals? 

  • Unfortunately because of the supply chain issues, Barnard needs to change the loads of consuming certain meals to prevent running out of things. 

Emily Lan (BC ‘24): What is being done to accommodate other diets like no-grain and others? 

  • Chartwell works with many different organizations on campus, especially CARDS, to make sure everyone has a good dining plan that works for them. If you need help with anything, meet with CARDS, and you’ll get a case manager to help figure out a meal plan that will work.

Summer Jones (BC ‘25): In dining halls, there are signs posted everywhere that say any extra food is donated to needy people in the community—how does that work? 

  • Barnard collaborates with Columbia Dining to donate to soup kitchens around the community. Now though, Barnard has adjusted its techniques to make small batches of foods so there is much less waste to give away. 

Christina Juste (BC ‘22): Regarding portion sizes, we often see people ask for second helpings of things in line and be denied or asked to go to the end of very long lines which adds to many food insecurities. What can Barnard do to prevent this? 

  • This needs to be adjusted by talking to staff during training. 

That’s all for this week’s SGA coverage! Make sure to check your emails for more information on SGA, and I’ll see you all next week! 

Drawing by Bwog artist, Ava Morouse