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Opinion: College Students Complain About Campus Food for Good Reason

The Beacon Editorial Board

Every year students complain about the food at Merrimack. Every year some minor adjustments are made, but significant improvements to the quality of food on campus remains elusive. 

We acknowledge that it’s borderline stereotypical for college students to complain about food on campus, but we’re not complaining for complaining’s sake. Several members of our editorial board are FYE instructors and RAs, and it’s hard to hear first year students complain about the food quality when we can’t explain it or fix it. 

Most of the time Merrimack’s food is just mediocre and bland. Other times it’s undercooked meat, a cold hamburger, or cheese sauce that doesn’t actually taste like cheese. 

There are other issues, too. Sometimes, especially at Majors and Minors, what appears on the daily menu isn’t actually what’s being served. There are also weird limitations on meal swipes that force students to use Mack Bucks and spend more money for items. In fact, there is regularly a mismatch between the value of meal swipes versus Mack Bucks and students end up paying more for their food. 

Don’t even get us started on how the system is confusing: Mack Bucks, Dining Dollars, Bonus Dollars, Meal Swipes… most of us just swipe our cards and hope for the best.

Food spots on campus have hours that are too limited, especially Sparky’s. Many of us find we are skipping meals because Sparky’s isn’t open when we have time to grab lunch or dinner between classes and work. Going to McQuade isn’t a good regular option because you can only use swipes for pizza. Other spots either don’t have meal swipe options or don’t have food that we want to eat for a meal.

Speaking of food we don’t want to eat: there aren’t a lot of options for us picky eaters. Chicken tenders or basic burgers should always be available.

We want Mindful Mac back. We’d like to be able to get smoothies on the weekends from The Den. We’d like to actually be able to get quesadillas from To The Max Mexican. We’d like to be able to get breakfast before 10:30 am on Sundays. We’d like the bagel and toast bar back. We want theme nights back, like the steak dinner and Italian dinner. 

The Sodexo food that we get at games, in the Blue Line Club, or at admissions events is consistently better than what we’re expected to eat on a daily basis. Why is the food better for guests and prospective students than for the students that are already here?

Food is fundamental to our time at Merrimack College. It is our fuel and our comfort when we’re studying for midterms and finals. It shouldn’t be something we even have to think about. We deserve to be able to count on getting food when we need it and for it to be better than it is now.