Editorial | Food for thought | Opinion | thefranklinnews.com

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Whether it’s the joy found in the mac and cheese bar or the supposedly questionable ground beef in the quesadillas, resident and commuter students alike talk about the food provided by Parkhurst Dining Services.

For most students, swiping your card and picking a line to wait in is quite simple because the only thing you are concerned about is what the food looks like and if it will taste good. However, for some students, one wrong bite can lead to a severe allergic reaction. Some students with allergies and schedule concerns have voiced their concerns with Parkhurst Dining Services staff.

Sophomore Brianna Bergen has Celiac’s disease, which is an autoimmune response to gluten, barley and rye. When gluten enters her system, it damages her small intestines and they are unable to absorb nutrients. Bergan said her experiences at Parkhurst have been difficult. 

“In my first year at Franklin, I struggled with mislabeled food, and uninformed staff the entire year. This year sadly has been very similar. I understand that it’s hard to provide safe food for every dietary restriction but as a student who has to have a meal plan, it’s hard only feeling safe eating at the deli,” Bergen said.

Executive Chef Chris Bator said all of Parkhurst staff are required to go through the AllerTrain certification process. 

AllerTrain serves as allergen training with the top nine allergens, Bator said. The upper-level staff are required to be ServSafe certified, along with an AllerTrain certification. This helps ensure the safety of all students. Bator explained that there is always at least one person on duty during all meals on duty that is ServSafe certified.

To ensure that students’ concerns are being heard, Parkhurst has outlined various ways for them to provide feedback. 

During the campus chat with dining services that took place on Sept. 28, the various QR codes posted in the student center were mentioned. Parkhurst strongly encourages students to share their critiques. 

“We have some students that like to help educate our staff … which makes it nice because it’s a bonding between the students and our staff. And, I feel like that’s always helpful for our staff,” general manager Deva Duncan said. 

While there has been improvement seen in the dining situation, students say there is still room to improve. 

As a community, we must collectively recognize that not every student is on the exact same schedule. Although senior Payton Dilk is no longer a resident and does not currently have a meal plan, she is indignant at the “hostility” she received from Parkhurst staff in years past.

“Franklin’s dining experience is the equivalent of high school lunch rooms. The saving grace of Franklin’s dining experience was Late Night. Franklin needs to add more meal options, better food and later hours,” Dilk said. 

This type of discontentment surfaced during the campus chat. It is evident that in order to move forward, there must be a channel of communication between Parkhurst and students. While it is easy to complain to your friends, if you have concerns you should try to find Chef Bator or Duncan. Scanning a QR code or filling out a comment card may not fix the issue immediately, but starting a conversation can ensure a safe meal to enjoy in the future.

“We want to make everybody enjoy their meals whether they have allergies or they don’t,” Duncan said. “We want them to enjoy the experience. You have a lot of things going on on campus and mealtimes should be enjoyed.”


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