In the past four years, I have eaten in Dalton Dining Hall more times than I can count, but the number of times I’ve complained about the food there is at least five times greater. I am here to give Dalton a big “thank you” for the changes they’ve made in the past year, and to make sure that these changes don’t go unrecognized or unappreciated.
First of all, I want to say that overall the food quality this semester has been better. I’m not saying every single dish is gourmet or healthier, but many of the dishes have been better-tasting and fresher than they were in the past.
There is also a much larger variety of vegetable and fry-free options that are seasoned and cooked well. Though the vegetable options tend to be on the cheaper side — usually something like peas, green beans or squash — any vegetable that isn’t a potato is a welcome change for me.
We have also had a new addition to Dalton this year — a gluten-free food section, complete with desserts. The food there is actually pretty good. I usually find myself scanning it for different foods and vegetables like spinach casserole or vegetable risotto, which are both really tasty. Even the gluten-free pasta is pretty good if you can get past the texture.
Dalton has also adopted the carrot program, where they place cards over certain dishes with a “carrot rating” indicating the nutritional value of those foods. For instance, the sesame sauteed vegetables are a three carrot rating for their healthy sodium and low-calorie attributes; however, the brown sugar carrots earned a two carrot rating because carrots lose some of their nutritional value when cooked, and the addition of brown sugar is better than standard white sugar, but still adds some unhealthy calories and carbohydrates. The rating system also gives you a recommended serving size as well as how often one should eat the dish.
Lastly, there has been a noticeable appearance of brown rice, wild rice and wheat pasta, and it is really appreciated. The move to a more nutritionally valuable starch is a really great way to give students options that don’t leave them missing their favorite foods like pasta and Chinese food. These foods make a great base to many dishes, and though white rice and white flour pasta are cheaper, they offer almost nothing when it comes to nutrients or healthy carbohydrates. Whole wheat, brown and wild choices are less processed and offer more nutrients, and in my opinion the only difference is the texture, which is easy to get used to if you add the right toppings.
Dalton has made some really healthy changes, and students are benefiting. Some of those choices aren’t the cheapest options, but Dalton is working to offer its students healthier food options that are easier to choose by cooking and seasoning them well. The dining hall is working to make itself a place where any student can eat, even if they have a food allergy.
I just want to say, it hasn’t gone unnoticed or unappreciated.