Commons Temporarily Increases Weekly Food Spending

Paresky Commons doubled their spending on the food budget to purchase the necessary amount of food for the Phillips Academy community this past week. Enough food was served at each serving station for the entire PA community during the past week, according to Paul Robarge, Senior Food Service Director. In most weeks, the food from all of the serving stations combined is enough to feed PA diners. “There was a curiosity factor…people were going around to see what [tasted] good, [to see] what station [was] better than another,” said Robarge. “I saw students grabbing a plate of food at one station and eating the plate of food while getting in line for food served at another station.” He added that he hoped students would avoid eating from all the different stations in one meal because it is unhealthy, though he anticipated the problem. Robarge also said that the weekly spending on food varies accordingly to the amount of food that the community consumes. “It depends on the community whether [spending] is going to return back to normal,” he said. The increased spending has also coincided with a general improvement in food quality. According to Robarge, Paresky Commons has tried to work with as many local farms as they can, like the staff in did in Uncommons. “About sixty to sixty-five percent of our produce comes from within New England,” Robarge said. While the food sources have remained the same, Paresky Commons’ staff members have now undergone extensive training in food preparation in addition to working with new equipment, including a hearth oven located on the first floor and Electrolux combination ovens located on the second floor. Vegetarians were among the students most pleased by the food in Paresky Commons. For vegetarian Serena Gelb ’10, finding a proper meal in Uncommons was troublesome. “I couldn’t eat a lot of the foods that they served, and I had soup and salad pretty much every day. Now, there are more ingredients to choose from when making a salad and different daily soups rather than minestrone every day,” said Gelb. “I was afraid that the quality of food was going to get progressively worse, as I thought it did in Uncommons, but the quality of food has still stayed pretty high,” said Michelle Ma ’11, a fellow vegetarian. But Gelb and Ma have both run into incidents where dishes have been inaccurately labeled or the ingredients of the dishes had not been listed. “They need to label their food [and the ingredients that go into each dish] better because I had unknowingly had a pizza with bacon on it,” said Ma. Gelb also encountered a situation in which a soup with meat was inaccurately labeled. Some students, however, still feel the food quality has room for improvement. “They’re taking full advantage of the grill, which means a slight increase in greasy food. I’d like to see them starting to use the grill for other things,” said Zoe Weinberg ’09. “Also, where are the microwaves? I used to microwave a lot of my food, but now I miss that,” added Weinberg.