In returning back to the now in-person fall 2021 semester, Montclair State University students noticed a pattern in the way Freeman Dining Hall was serving food on the weekends — and they were not happy about it.
Before Oct. 16, the dining hall was serving food in a buffet-style manner on weekends. This was different than the regular kiosk system they were used to. Though the dining hall has now implemented both methods, prior to the shift, students shared their reactions to the weekend buffet.
Sophie Blanc, a junior English major, did not particularly mind the food on weekdays but felt the dining hall could have done better with what they served on weekends.
“[The food] is fine on weekdays,” Blanc said. “You get what you’re expecting: nothing more [and] nothing less. It’s a hit or miss sometimes. [But on the weekends], they have less options with the buffet style.”
More often than not, Blanc found herself eating elsewhere on the weekends for this reason alone.
Nicole Lithgow, a freshman public health major, also related to Blanc’s ardency over the food change.
“On the weekends, it’s buffet style, and there’s not a lot of options then,” Lithgow said. “You get what you get. I like the breakfast [on weekends], though.”
It wasn’t just the food on the weekends, however; Lithgow believed the dining hall might need to improve on their food quality altogether.
“I’m not even picky, but this is iffy,” Lithgow said.
Students were not the only ones recognizing a growing problem. Lisa Larrow, 45, has been a worker at Freeman Dining Hall since July 2017. She knows the ins and outs of the building, including the things students say about the food there.
Larrow works four days out of the week: Fridays, Saturdays (where she takes double shifts), Sundays and Mondays, making it clear she knows what kinds of things go on during the weekends. She said the dining hall is severely understaffed on those days and has heard students complain about the lack of options on weekends.
“Some [students] have voiced their concerns to me,” Larrow said. “Some of them don’t like [the limited food options]. They’re not happy with it.”
Andrix St. Jean, 33, the sous chef and supervisor at Freeman Dining Hall, has worked there for four years. He, as well as Larrow, is no stranger to what students have been saying about the food.
“Some like it, some don’t,” St. Jean said. “A few of them say we don’t have burgers and french fries [on weekends], and they want it back.”
Unlike Larrow, however, St. Jean believes weekends are more laidback and that the issue does not lie in understaffing or limited options, but the quality of the food itself.
“I think we need better food, really,” St. Jean said. “Sometimes it’s kind of dry, the rice has nothing in it, the pizza cheese doesn’t even melt … I think it’s the food quality itself and not the buffet style.”
Regardless of differing perspectives on the matter, there is recognition amongst students and workers alike that the weekends here at Freeman Dining Hall were problematic.
With the kiosk system back in use, however, and the changes made to the dining hall’s method of serving food, students eating in Freeman Dining Hall now have more options to look forward to on the weekends. Students’ reactions have been fairly positive so far.
“[With the buffet] it’s like what you get is what you get,” Lithgow said. “I feel like I have a lot more options now.”