|Food Show Gives Students a Voice in Choosing Menu Items at Vail Commons
October 21, 2008
By Emily Matras ‘12
Chicken spring rolls with sweet chile sauce. Red pepper hummus. Stacks of funnel cake sprinkled with powdered sugar.
These were just a few of the foods available at the 12th annual Voice Your Choice food show. The event took place recently in Davidson’s Vail Commons dining hall, where more than 20 different vendors showcased new food items, and students got to vote on their favorites.
“The purpose of the food show is to gather new ideas and products to incorporate at Commons,” said Bonnie Dunavent, Associate Director of Board Plan. Dunavent, who organized the food show, contacted manufacturers to bring in items students might like. If a certain item received a positive response from students, it might make it onto the menu.
This year, student feedback took the form of noting their favorite items on white boards at the front of Commons. In years past, students indicated their preferences by filling out slips of paper. However, Dunavent said, “This is the Year of Sustainability at Davidson, and I didn’t want to make 1,000 copies when I could get the information with a few sheets of paper and white boards."
Student responses have been tallied, and this year’s top favorites include the chicken wings, olive and rosemary breads, and many of the Asian foods, such as the spring rolls.
Past food show items that have been added to the dining menu include the deli chicken meat, potato pancakes for breakfast, and certain breads for sandwich specials, including the hoagie rolls.
“I didn’t get a chance to try the spring rolls—I’m trying to limit myself. But I liked the BBQ chicken and the crème brulee. One cup isn’t enough!” said Karen Goldstein, vice president of Finance and Administration. She has been coming to the food show for the past five years. “I enjoy the festive atmosphere, it’s good to make it fun.”
As a freshman, Morgan Brown was a first time attendee of the food show. “My favorite was the salmon skewers. I also liked the cookies, but Commons has pretty good cookies already,” she said. “I thought there was going to be less food, but it was pretty exciting, and there were more people there than I expected.”
The food show was a little busier this year, according to Dunavent. “I think the students really enjoyed it. It’s as much about the atmosphere as it is the food.”
The festive atmosphere was in part created by Jim Nash, technical director of Duke Family Performance Hall, who served as a d.j. for the show. “I’ve been d.j.-ing at the food show for eight long, grueling years," he joked. "But I enjoy doing it. It’s the only time as a staff member that I get to throw things at students and not end up in the Human Resources office."
Nash tossed out T-shirts provided by vendors and asked Davidson trivia questions, such as how many three-pointers Stephen Curry made last year, to entertain students. “It’s been a lot of fun over the years. I think the food show comes at a good time because students are under stress from midterms, and this is a way to ease their stress for a little while,” Nash added.
Jim Fichtelman ’12 appreciated the effort. “It’s a good break in the week, and all the food seems really fresh.”
However, some students complained about limited selections.
“There wasn’t as much variety as the past couple of years, and there were too many fried foods," said Allison Ruhe ’10. "Also, I didn’t think there were enough desserts. Usually there’s a whole tray and lots of stations, but not this year,” .
Students were able to use their meal plans for the show. Since some of the food was provided for free by vendors, the door price for the meal was lowered from the usual $8.50 to $5.00.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.
Posted By: Bill Giduz