Petition calls for better campus food


Alek Fleury

First-years Conley Reiter and Shannon Thornton authored a petition calling for an overall better dining experience at UVM. The petition currently has over 1,000 signatures and Reiter and Thornton are looking to setup a meeting with UVM Dining.

Lindsay Freed, Senior Staff Writer

A petition calling for higher quality food and an overall better dining experience is being circulated by students.

The petition, which currently has over 1,000 signatures and is circulating on, asks UVM to provide better food, along with more convenient dining hall hours, said first-year Conley Reiter, one of the petition’s authors.

Reiter and co-author Shannon Thornton, a first-year, started the petition because they think the food options given to students in the dining halls don’t reflect what was promised to them when they applied to UVM, Reiter said.

“We were promised these farm-to-table foods were going to be locally sourced,” Reiter said. “It was going to be, this is this great dining experience for the Wellness Environment, really for all students, too. We found that just really isn’t the case.”

Students with dietary restrictions, such as vegetarians, vegans and people with allergies, have trouble finding food that adequately meets their needs, Thornton said.

When Thornton went to WE’s welcome program at the beginning of the year, she was given high-quality vegetarian and vegan-friendly meals, such as vegetarian curry, that she said she hasn’t been able to find since, Thornton said.

“I really miss those now,” she said. “Now I walk into the dining hall on a regular day and I see chicken cutlets [and] hamburgers and all I really get to eat every single meal is fries and a veggie burger.”

They have also heard of issues with cross-contamination, which can be a problem for students with allergies, she said.

Since circulating the petition, Thornton and Reiter are currently looking into setting up a meeting with UVM Dining to talk about their concerns, said Melissa Zelazny, resident district manager for UVM Dining.

UVM Dining tries its best to work with students who have dietary restrictions to find them food alternatives, said Annie Stevens, vice provost for student affairs.

As for the quality of food advertised to students, the meals provided to students at orientation and during family weekend is the same quality as what are set out during the rest of the year, Stevens said.

The difference between orientation and the school year is that orientation is two days at a single dining location, but UVM Dining has to plan for 18 different locations over the nine months of the school year, she said.

“That’s why we have a variety of options — so students feel like they have different places to go,” she said.

Concerns over the quality and availability of food on campus is something SGA has been working on this year, said sophomore Aidan Doherty, chair of the SGA Student Action Committee.

Doherty’s committee is in the process of setting up focus groups to talk with students about their complaints, he said.

“UVM hypes itself up to have this amazing new dining experience, especially in Central, but in actuality, you get the same Grundle fries,” Doherty said. “It’s not what students are paying for.”

Students hear about different dining options available on campus at orientation, but UVM Dining can’t provide those options in one facility, said Dennis DePaul, associate dean of student affairs.

“If you’re only eating in one facility, it’s going to be hard to find that breadth of options,” DePaul said.