Every student strolling down the ped mall had to go through the agonizing process of applying to colleges and deciding where to go to school. The common link between all these students is that Cornell is where each and every one of them has ended up. So many different variables go into making that final decision but in the end it is always simply a leap of faith.
Luckily enough at Cornell, this leap of faith lands new students not just on a college campus, but within a community: a community that extends from the classroom, to the athletic fields, into town, and even into the dining hall.
Director of Food Services Joan Homrich explains how this sense of community has led to Cornell’s dining service being ranked second in the nation. “The biggest difference at Cornell is that our employees are engaged, friendly, and they want to be here,” said Homrich. “This makes a huge difference. They want to make you feel welcome. No matter how beautiful things were, if our employees weren’t friendly it would be very different.”
“I want it to be fresh. I want it to be local. And I want it to be healthy,” Homrich said of the food provided to Cornell students. In today’s society, health is a huge deal to many people. Simply put, people care more about what they are putting in their bodies,and many schools are responding to this. Bon Appetit, the food provider here at Cornell, also offers fresh, local, and healthy food at other colleges. So what is it that really makes Cornell’s dining services second in the nation?
Joan Homrich gives the credit back to the college itself. “Cornell is getting a lot of recognition on its own. We couldn’t be successful here without the support of the college. They took a big leap in saying we are going to change our food service and do the right thing.”
Along with providing these new healthy options and meeting the dietary needs of all students, there is something more: an aura when someone walks into the dining hall. The same aura that exists everywhere on campus. The aura of caring. Passing a professor without a hello doesn’t exist here. Being allowed to fall through the cracks isn’t a real possibility.
Similarly, this caring at an entirely human level extends to the dining hall. It isn’t about food but more about people. They have the food part down. Homrich said, “We are trying to bring more attention to our practices. One of the reasons we do the Hilltop Harvest Festival is because it is an opportunity for students to meet the farmers and see where their food is really coming from. Also, I try once a month to do Food For Your Well Being and we set up a table that I man and explain nutritional facts and recipes.”
For Bon Appetit, It isn’t just about getting the students through the food line as quick as possible and getting the three meals of the day over with. “Students’ opinions are super important,” Homrich said.
Mike Stroll, the executive chef, responds to every single comment card, and Homrich said he “even gets his feelings hurt sometimes.” This goes to show that this isn’t just a job; members of Cornell’s Bon Appetit care about the students, and this concern and sense of community is why they got the ranking.
When it comes to complaints: “Our biggest recurring complaint is that the ice cream machine isn’t working. The doggone thing does break a lot; it’s crazy,” Homrich said. But hey, if that’s the worst of it, then Cornell students should count their blessings.
Abby Bridgett– Staff Writer