Bite of Becker
Leicester Dining Experience
School lunches are notorious for being looked down upon as disgusting, as are the areas in which they are served. Luckily Becker College’s dining halls have yet to be seen this way.
In June of 2012, the student voices of Becker were heard, and Becker’s Student Government Association got the school to bring Chartwells to cater for the students. Chartwells works hard to turn the lunches into delicious, nutritious meals to get students through the day. Chartwells’ chef Dennis Brown says, “The new student center, opened in the fall semester of 2012, is a great improvement to what they had before.” Brown also says “The eight different buffet areas allow for a wider variety of foods because of increased space.” Chef Brown also loves how they can “feature a deli salad” or a student can “get a whole meal from the grill area.” Of these great new improvements Brown’s favorite part about the whole dining setup is the feature grill, where sautéed pasta or stir-fry can be found. Brown likes to call it the ethnic station because it often “features Indian, Italian, Korean, and other ethnic cuisines.”
A good atmosphere is one of the most important parts of any eating experience, and the Leicester dining hall has a comfortable one. It has glass walls to provide decent scenery and calming music to listen to while you eat. Freshman Tyler commented, “I like the music,” plain simple and satisfactory.
Another contributing factor to a positive eating experience is cleanliness. I was happy to see all the windows and glass walls free of fingerprints and smudges. At first glance the dining hall would seem clean; it was “good enough” for an anonymous male enjoying his lunch. I suppose as long as you’re not looking at the floors it would be good enough to me too. The floors, unfortunately, looked completely unswept at a closer look, and the cereal and toaster counters were infested with crumbs. Senior Kirsten states that she “wished they wiped the tables off more” as she sat down, staring repugnantly at a table strewn with salt and food. The counters and utensils near the hot and cold foods appeared much cleaner. The plates, bowls, cups, and silverware did as well.
Along with all this, food storage is a very important part of sanitation. There are six elements that promote bacteria in food when it comes to storage: food, acidity, time, temperature, oxygen, and moisture. The acronym is FAT TOM. There is a salad bar in the center of the other food stations in Leicester. All contents found here, from vegetables to compound salads to dressings, are meant to be kept cold. The cooling system keeps them at a proper temperature of 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Some desserts are also kept in a refrigeration unit. The thermometer there reads 40 degrees, which is barely, but still in, the temperature danger zone of 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Because the pies here are moist and set in the right temperature, they are a ticking time bomb. Some of the decadent desserts are also outside of the refrigerator for the taking with whipped cream sitting at a temperature of around 75.5 degrees, as reported by one of the Chartwell workers.
There is a more positive side to the food storage, however. The hot food has four main segments: grill, pizza, entrée, and specialty. There is a heat lamp to keep the pizza hot and steam tables to control the other three food stations. Chef Rus says, “The pizza is changed out periodically,” that way there is no chance of bacteria growing on the hot food. Brooke, senior and student body president says, “There is a great variety of hot meals that changes every day. Cultural differences and student needs are also met by Chartwells.”
There is a large selection of drinks to go along with the meals including milks, sodas, juices, and water. A group of freshmen says the drink selection is just fine. They say the selection sometimes seems larger than the food selection, though. Freshman Andrew stated that he would particularly like to see Pepsi and a non-alcoholic frozen drink bar. This is perhaps a farfetched idea, but a good one at that.
If you’re looking for a relaxing environment for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, head over to the Leicester dining hall. The lunch rush begins at 12:20pm, so come before or after to avoid the cafeteria being packed to capacity. “The crowds are crazy because this is when all the classes get out, save yourself.” (Sophomore Laura)
Join us next time for a look at Worcester’s dining hall and another “Bite of Becker”!
Victoria Horning, Staff Writer