Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Nothing spoils an appetite more than BonApp

The smell of basil, oregano and tomatoes perfume the air of the Watson kitchen as the ragu comes to a finish. The pasta, waiting on the other boiler, is drained and the sauce is poured into the Dutch oven with the noodles. I’ve recently entered a cooking phase. Part of it is driven by disinterest in the offerings of Bon Appétit, as there’s only so much undercooked chicken and salty blobs that one can take. Cooking is an outlet for me from the stresses of schoolwork, obligations and boredom. Any hint of an existential crisis disappears when I enter the kitchen.As a result of this new hobby, I’ve eaten fewer of my meals in the dining halls in the last few weeks. 

Most know by now that forcing everyone to be on the meal plan (and particularly freshmen to be on the 20 meal plan) is a money grab by Carleton. The 20 meal plan is $2,630 per term, and there are ten weeks in a term. That equates to each meal costing $12.77. You could go to El Triunfo and buy three steak tostadas, tamales or two tacos for each meal and it would cost less than the price of a Bon Appétit meal. Alternatively, you could also go to the Quarterback Club and get most of their sandwiches with a side of fries and a shake for less. If you really want to save money (and your taste buds) cooking is where it’s at. I recently made spaghetti with a beef and artichoke heart ragu. The total for all the ingredients at Family Fare was less than $40. The pasta was made on April 4. It is April 8, and as I am writing this article, I have more than enough to last me through the week. Assuming I eat the pasta for both lunch and dinner, this averages out to less than three dollars per meal. You don’t have to go to the co-op, spend hours meal prepping or buy expensive kitchen gadgets and crockery to cook. All you really need is a pot or a pan, a knife and a spoon and you should be able to make a good range of dishes. 

The meal plans claim to be flexible, but how is it flexible to force all first years on a meal plan that they might not want or need? After all, not everyone eats breakfast, because they don’t feel hungry in the morning or they get up too late. Those who also have 4a classes are also greatly disadvantaged by the meal plan because they either have to rush through a meal before class or run to one of the dining halls after class. Of course there are also people who have  3a, 4a and  5a classes who can’t make it to lunch at all. It’s also worth noting that first years who have dietary restrictions get the worst end of the stick. The vegan section frequently consists of a bland selection of mush. Pork makes an appearance at almost every breakfast. Nothing is labeled properly for potential allergens. They not only have to suffer a meal plan that doesn’t serve them, but also have to pay a ludicrous amount of money to do so. 

There are several changes to the meal plan that could make it much better. The first change would be to not make it mandatory for anyone. People should be able to choose how and what they eat. They shouldn’t have a meal plan forcing them to spend money on food that they can’t or don’t want to eat. The next amendment should be that there should be more meal equivalencies. Seeing as the limit for meal equivalencies is $11 and the average meal swipe is $12.77, I see no reason as to why the frequency for meal swipes shouldn’t be greater. All things being equal, Bon Appétit would actually make money if they allowed those on the 20 meal plan to have more meal equivalencies per week. Finally, the dining hall hours should be extended to accommodate different schedules and lifestyles. No one should have to skip a meal or suffer through cold sandwiches because of their class schedule. 

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