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  • Lee Parsons, Staff Writer

We’re being fed, but are we happy about it? Goudy and dietary restrictions

Art by Carolyn Vazquez.

Willamette University has only one dining hall, and it is the primary food source for most students who reside on campus. However, not everyone who finds it necessary to eat there is pleased with the food they are being served. Complaining about Goudy seems to be an integral part of Willamette students’ culture, but is it all that bad? 

There are multiple causes for concern among students who eat at Goudy. Recently, Goudy accidentally served students undercooked chicken. On Dec. 3, Goudy served 12-15 servings of undercooked chicken before students informed employees of the issue. Bon Appetit has said they “believe this was an isolated incident but [they] have implemented several new protocols and training measures to ensure this does not occur again.” Goudy passed its recent inspection from the Oregon Department of Health, but students with dietary restrictions have issues with more than just the safety of the food. 

The Collegian hung up QR code posters in each residence hall, linking to a Google form poll in order to gauge students’ thoughts across campus. Twenty-one student residents filled out the form about their experiences eating at Goudy with dietary restrictions. Of the respondents, about 57% said the food at Goudy was edible, but not enjoyable. This is the case for many different reasons, according to their answers, the most frequent being cross-contamination, mislabeling, lack of variety and poor taste, in that order. Richard Wagner (‘27) said, “Cross-contamination is frequent, including between vegetarian and meat products. Items are also occasionally mislabeled as vegetarian, despite containing animal-derived ingredients like gelatin or fish sauce.” Vanessa Wallace (‘27) said, “For the most part I enjoy Goudy, but sometimes it gets repetitive and just boring to eat.”

Some students were happy with the food. Nearly 20% of those who filled out the Google form thought the food served by Goudy met their needs and was enjoyable. Only one student thought the food was truly inedible. But generally, respondents seemed to appreciate the employees of Goudy while simultaneously being unhappy with the food. 

Elliot Walker (‘27) said, “I actually have a lot of respect for [Goudy employees] and their work. They obviously have a difficult job, trying to feed a whole bunch of college students good food, while accommodating the myriad of dietary restrictions and operating on a less-than-ideal budget. But they’re nice people who try their best, and honestly seem like they care about us students. … Goudy certainly doesn’t do half bad overall.” 

The Goudy experience is varied for each group with different dietary restrictions. Those who need gluten-free food tend to have a lot of concerns about cross-contamination. Still, Sharlie McEwen (‘27) said, “They recently did create a dedicated gluten-free area which has been nice as it's less likely for things to be contaminated.” While the contamination issues are improving over time, the options for those with dietary restrictions are limited. McEwen added, “The meal options usually aren't great, and I'll either end up getting a salad or just an assortment of vegetables instead of a real meal.” The main concern for those who are vegetarian also tended to be a lack of options. As Vera Sieck (‘27) said, “The only reliable option is Cocina Latina, which is good, but beans and rice every lunch gets old.” Kayla Stinson (‘25) seemed to agree with this sentiment, stating, “I feel like I watch everyone else get options and then I have to eat the same thing every day for lunch or dinner.”

The meat options provided could be better for multiple groups. There is always breakfast meat, but there is not always a vegetarian or vegan option. For those who are kosher, the meat is simply scheduled badly according to James Groman (‘26). He said, “In my experience the food is good, [but] they just don’t schedule it inclusively. Sometimes, all the options are shrimp or pork and pepperoni pizza.” He suggests that Goudy should consider rethinking this, ensuring there is kosher meat available at each meal.

The meat replacements can also be subpar. Some students who filled out the poll were unhappy about the taste and variety of non-meat options, as well as the nutritional value. Jordan Pierson (‘26) said, “There are always things I can eat as a vegan, but the nutrition (or lack thereof) varies drastically.”

Based on the Google poll, most students with dietary restrictions feel their needs are being met either most of the time (about 43% of respondents) or occasionally (about 33%). While the options available might be repetitive, disagreeable or tasteless, they tend to be viable. Goudy may not consistently meet the culinary expectations of all students, but a significant portion of students with dietary restrictions feel that their basic needs are addressed. Students are not in any danger of starving because our food options are so abhorrent, and there is always plenty of food available, but recent events have led some to question: are these the only requirements we should expect Goudy to fulfill?

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1 Comment

Feb 28

well researched and collated on survey. Nice story, very informative. I think that it would be a hard job to deliver all the options that students need or want, besides the under cooked chicken, which is really hard to do and keep it moist. The non meat choices could be hard without student input of what they wish to eat and still be feasible to make on a large scale and cost minimal.

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