A serious, food-related outbreak at another college makes City students consider the pros and cons of the NAC cafe by Saif Choudhury
A few weeks ago, an epidemic stretched its hands throughout Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. The contagious norovirus – a pathogen that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea – debilitated more than 200 students, faculty, and staff at Ursinus, causing the college to cancel campus and various other collegiate activities.
Since norovirus spreads most effectively through contaminated foods, the college took extra measures to monitor its on campus dining hall. Officials shut it down for a day to undergo extensive cleaning and sanitizing by school staff and district officials. Students only regained the trust of their main dining area after it passed inspections from the Department of Health later that week.
Could this happen at City College? What if the campus’s dining facilities were the cause of an unbearable outbreak?
“I’m pretty sure our cafeteria has been responsible for worse,” says Sadiq Rahman, a senior at CCNY. “When I started classes here four years ago, the only thing anyone was talking about was how the cafeteria failed its inspections. Apparently the food wasn’t cooked and there were rat droppings everywhere.”
Rahman, a psychology major, is referring last August 2012 when the NAC cafeteria was hit with mulitiple violations and scored a total of 62 violation points. The severity of the infractions – ranging from a lack of protection of food, to a lack of maintenance of food, to a plethora of vermin – caused Department of Health agents to shut down the cafeteria until it passed inspections the next day.
“I’ve heard that the cafeteria is much better now, and I see my friends go in to eat all the time,” says Rahman, who plans on graduating this semester. “But I got the message from day 1: don’t eat at college. For the past four years, I’ve been bringing my own food from home and I eat it quickly in between classes. For my own safety, I don’t plan on changing that routine soon.”
Other students disagree. “I think the cafeteria is fine,” says Rafia Arooj, a sophomore at CCNY. “If it’s raining outside, or if you just don’t feel like getting up and going to a deli that’s three blocks away, there’s food right here. They have everything from pizza to lo mein. And it’s open, so it can’t be that unsafe to eat there!”
He’s more than right: The most recent inspection, conducted in November, 2014, indicates that the City College cafeteria earned an A grade with only nine violations. Click here to see the list.
In fact, the most recent talks about the cafeteria have not been about its poor ratings, but instead its food providers. Last year word spread that the college was considering switching things up from the current food provider, Metropolitan Food Service Inc., to another food service. However, no final decisions have been made on who that new provider will be, or if the college will even switch anytime soon.
“To be honest, I don’t really care who gives me my food,” says Arooj. “As long as I have something to eat and a place where I can eat it, I’m good!”