In the last year, Val has undergone some important changes that have made our food options both more delicious and nutritious. Yet every day, students can be overheard complaining about Val to their friends. Of course not every student is going to be thrilled with Val’s food options every day, but there are some considerations we all should make before publicly complaining about a service that ultimately provides us with everything we need and more.
The main consideration we should make is for our fellow students. It isn’t possible to know where every student around you comes from, and there is a good chance that in complaining about Val food, you are alienating someone you are speaking to or who overhears you — someone who might not have had access to healthy or home cooked meals at home or for whom Val food is a huge improvement from what they are used to eating.
We also need to consider whether we might be offending Val staff by commenting negatively as we take our food. A dish that others enjoy might not appeal to you, but no one is forcing you to choose that option. Since the people serving the food can hear when we make negative remarks about the meals that they have worked very hard to put in front of us, perhaps we should simply skip the dishes that we don’t enjoy and keep our opinions of them to ourselves.
That said, Val does provide a means of airing our complaints and suggestions in a much more positive (and effective) way — comment cards. It is obvious that Val has been listening to the student body and adapting accordingly; this semester, we have seen the additions of healthy, high-quality ingredients like hemp hearts and nutritional yeast flakes, avocado on some of Val’s prepared salads and delicious and fresh produce from Book and Plow Farm every day. We have also benefitted from the Val staff’s increased attention to how well-done they cook their vegetables and meats. Val has even extended its hours and provided Sloppy Dog’s food truck from 10 p.m. to midnight three days a week due to student demand for later eating options.
The point is, Val is listening. So instead of complaining to each other, let’s start communicating directly with Val — we can be heard and create the changes we want to see while being thoughtful of those around us. We have the option of asking for improvements sincerely and without negativity, and there is no need to make anyone uncomfortable by putting down food that we all share and to which we all have different relationships.