Marketplace: Now Serving Disappointment for Dinner

My parents took me and my twin sister to an open house at Elizabethtown College during our senior year of high school. Among the amenities offered at the open house were free tickets to eat at the Marketplace. I recall eating a slice of pepperoni pizza while listening to my parents argue with my sister. They knew I was interested in attending Elizabethtown College, and they begged her to cooperate long enough for us to take a campus tour. I can still remember how hard I laughed when I saw the exasperated look on my twins’ face as she declared “I’m not going here!” 

Three years later, my sister and I are now juniors at Elizabethtown College. I have been to the Marketplace countless times following my first visit, and I am impressed that the menu has remained consistent, though the food is consistently unsatisfying. I have never considered myself to be picky – I will eat just about anything. However, the dining hall at Elizabethtown College serves food that tastes bad, lacks menu variety, and does not meet the needs of the students.

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you have not had the opportunity to grab breakfast at the Marketplace, I highly recommend going. The breakfast options are generally the same every morning: eggs, potatoes, baked oatmeal, sausage, and bacon. A slew of cereal options are available as well, though they are present at every meal. 

While the food at breakfast is not the worst, it could drastically improve if there was a bigger variety of options. I always want to get something to eat before my morning classes, yet the options are usually the same slew of foods I had for breakfast the day before. There are ways to remedy this situation, such as adding variations to the standard menu, opening the omelet bar during breakfast, and opening the pizza station early to have breakfast pizzas available. 

The Marketplace offers only the finest foods for lunch and dinner: chicken fried chicken, sloppy joe, and everyone’s favorite, baked fish of the day. More often than not, students pause to look at the main dishes served during meals then go over to the grill or deli to order a wrap.

While students are free to decide what they want to eat, I am concerned by the amount of food that ultimately goes to waste. The demand for the deli and grill is higher than the want for the main dishes. Besides the deli or grill, students favor the omelet station, salad bar, pasta bar, and pizza. 

Since the beginning of the semester, the Marketplace has stopped staffing the deli or grill stations during the weekends. To rectify the issue, the Marketplace now lays out all the sandwich options “self-serve” style on one of the salad bars, and places food from the grill on the bar by the pizza station.

Students making their own sandwiches at the makeshift deli will reach into bags of bread with unwashed hands, breathe all over the deli meats and cheeses, and increase the risk of spreading bacteria and germs to their peers. The makeshift grill station is equally as bad as its’ deli counterpart, but for different reasons.

 While the Marketplace has bathrooms, hand sanitizer, and that fancy hand washing device in the main room, there are many students that do not wash their hands before or after they get their food. I go to the Marketplace on weekends and worry the CDC might put Elizabethtown College under quarantine. 

The Marketplace cannot rely on students to wash their hands, refrain from breathing over the provolone cheese, or avoid cross contaminating the food. Preventing the spread of germs and bacteria should be of utmost importance to Elizabethtown dining services, particularly with cold and flu season already underway. 

As a proud Elizabethtown Blue Jay, I believe the food in the Marketplace is at least somewhat palatable. However, the meal options are bland and repetitive, and could benefit from a revamped menu. The lack of student and full-time employees in dining services has become an issue for the college, particularly on weekends. This problem may only be fixed if Elizabethtown hires additional staff members. Finally, I believe everyone at Elizabethtown College would benefit from dining services taking the time to observe how students interact with the food served at the Marketplace. This will allow the college to form a better understanding of what students like to eat. Furthermore, Etown dining services will be able to figure out which foods will be eaten if they are served. 

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