By Debbie Gillum
News Editor Emeritus
Have you ever taken something from the dining hall? A cookie? A bagel? Well, that’s actually a violation of Denison’s policy.
The policy set by Denison and enforced by Bon Appetit is that “nothing can leave the dining hall,” said Jennifer McGann, general manager for dining services.
If every student took food, Bon Appetit would lose a significant amount of money. McGann doesn’t think food theft is an “epidemic,” but she did warn that if things get out of control, meal plan prices could increase.
Students are not allowed to bring in their own containers such as ziploc bags or tupperware containers.
McGann said they try to be respectful of students by letting them bring their bags and backpacks into the dining hall and hope they reciprocate that respect by not carrying off dozens of apples.
“We want to be gracious enough to avoid putting anyone in an awkward situation. We don’t like to step in… but if someone is removing items they shouldn’t, we will have to ask them not to do so,” said Julie Mulisano, the dining hall manager at Curtis.
Mulisano said that students feel at home in Denison’s dining halls, and that contributes to the number of students taking food outside. “The familiarity of the dining halls breaks down some of the typical barriers students have about taking things,” she said.
Another problem in the dining halls is that some students sneak in during busy periods such as lunch and dinner.
“If we see this happen, we will politely ask to see their student ID and then make a photocopy of it. If they are uncooperative, then we will call security, especially if they are repeat offenders,” said McGann.
Bon Appetit works closely with Denison security, and have recently asked them to better monitor the cameras in Slayter.
“We’ve noticed a lot of items missing when we do inventory. We’re watching it a lot more closely,” said McGann. She said that Bon Appetit loses more money when students take pre-packaged items from Slayter than produce from the dining halls.
To try to make Slayter less troublesome, Bon Appetit managers have talked about putting up mirrors, having security guards, or rearranging the food in Slayter because the problem “seems to have gotten worse in the winter,” said McGann.
Students have gotten quite creative with taking items from the dining hall.
“I’ve noticed two or three times that somebody brings a blender in and fills it with 8 scoops of ice cream and milk and they take it back to their room,” recalled Mulisano. She said she was waiting until the student was alone and then would carefully confront them.
Another student took a whole loaf of bread and made multiple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
“Students often take the decor, such as a red pepper or cucumber. But I’ll see people with five vegetables. We wish students would not grocery shop in the dining hall,” said Mulisano. The produce that is used for decor around the dining hall is used for later cooking and is not wasted.
Cora McHugh ‘14, from Dexter, Mich., said she has seen students put food in their bags or in containers they have brought. She admits that she also occasionally takes out food, but only small things.
“It’s mostly fruit or a cookie. I sometimes used to make a little baggie out of a napkin and take some cereal,” said McHugh.
Overall, McGann thinks that Denison students are very polite, respectful and behave like adults.
Photo courtesy of Shivani Mithbaokar ’16