SFA's Dining Services needs to take incidents seriously

Students who live on campus rely on the meal plans. Some have no other way of getting a meal, and others have used most of their Dining Dollars with the on campus retail and have to eat in the cafeterias. One thing that students don’t need is raw chicken being served to them. Last month, a tweet about a student and her friend discovering the chicken quesadilla was raw and the student’s post being declined by the SFA Community Facebook page made its rounds on Twitter. This has sparked more students to share their cafeteria experiences to the point it doesn’t make the dining services look good.

As much money as students put into the meal plan, it’s assumed that no student needs to worry about getting sick from a meal. If neither the student nor her friend who got the chicken quesadilla noticed the raw meat early on, the outcome might have changed with her friend experiencing severe food poisoning.

When looking at the website for Aramark, a food service that provides meals to businesses and schools including universities, all that is found regarding food regulation relates to their partnership with public schools but not specifically universities. Aramark states, “Menus designed for your district will meet or exceed the requirements of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, as well as state and local regulations. We continuously provide our operation teams with communications and training to manage a USDA-compliant and successful food service program.” Yet, this statement is only under the K-12 Schools and Districts tab, and the other result shows an advice book for sale titled, “Food Safety on Higher Ed Campuses.” On the SFA dining webpage, there is no sign of a statement concerning regulations, only their promise to serve healthy and low-calorie food to students. With no confirmation on if the incident was just an accident or if there have been several quesadillas that included the raw chicken, it’s enough to make students leery about eating in the cafeterias.

The situation would be different if raw food being served to students only happened rarely.

However, this has been the case multiple times.

The student shared that she received a direct message from another student who, on Sept. 27, had taken and sent a picture of her pink, raw chicken she had gotten from the cafeteria. Other students had replied to a tweet posted by The Pine Log, asking about more situations in which the cafeteria served food unsafe for consumption. One shared that there was a black beetle in a sandwich last year. Another shared their pizza crust was literally dough and stretchy. “I’ve almost bit into raw chicken before,” one Twitter user said. “A lot of times the food is undercooked or not cooked properly. Why would we hire people to serve us food if they can’t even keep the place they cook our food in clean and sanitary, and they can’t even cook the food correctly?”

And, that’s the scariest part of all. If the University is pushing students to eat on campus yet there is a possibility of the food being raw, there won’t be a good outcome. Three weeks after this incident, a student on Twitter posted a picture with the caption “we love being served raw chicken... this is the 3rd time this has happened to me. [Please] fix it before someone gets seriously sick.” The picture shows the raw chicken with cheese and sauce on top and looks like it has been bitten into, which makes the situation worse. Even with this particular incident reported from the East College Cafeteria, it still is enough to make students wonder if they should even trust the food in either of the cafeterias. There needs to be a better way to check before the food is put out for display that it is up to health codes, as well as a public statement that both Aramark and SFA Dining follow the health codes. There also needs to be a more professional way to report these situations and proof that it is being taken seriously instead of just a promise through social media and direct messaging.

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