Lyman Menu Change Provokes Student Response

Hannah Bartman

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Illustration by Kels Lund

A food truck has rolled into Whitman College and has taken the place of Lyman Dining Hall. Beginning in the 2013 school year, Whitman’s food catering service, Bon Appétit, will create one internationally themed dish to serve every meal for two weeks in Lyman Dining Hall in replica of a “food truck.”

“I felt that Lyman was underutilized, so I was trying to come up with a concept that would be interesting and get more people into Lyman,” said Executive Chef Jim Cooley. “Since [Lyman is] open later at night, I thought it could be a destination place for the students to go.”

Due to student request, Lyman has since reduced the time length to one week, serving Indian cuisine the week of Sept. 23 and Japanese the week of Sept. 30. Lyman has long been a unique dining hall for athletes and students of late-night classes in that it is the only dining hall to stay open until 8 p.m. Sophomore Emma Altman, who has a ballet class until 7 p.m., now resents that Lyman is her sole possibility.

“I like the homey, quiet atmosphere of Lyman, but that is ruined by not being able to have a healthy mix of food,” said Altman.

This similarly negative opinion of the new changes to the Lyman menu has been a rising concern within the Whitman community.

“No one wants to eat there if it’s the same food every day,” said first-year Asher Jaffe. “We want variety.”

Serving approximately 70 students a day, Cooley is sensitive to student laments, and he is attempting to remedy the resistance to this new change in dining policy. Beginning on Sept. 16, Lyman added one entrée from the Jewett Dining Hall onto the evening menu in order to add variability to the students who must eat during Lyman’s extended hours.

“You learn that when you make changes, you get a lot of resistance at first, and sometimes you just have to wait it out and see how it pans out,” said Cooley. “Change comes hard here at Whitman.”

This menu change has also brought about a shift from the usual self-serve style of Lyman, which is now equipped with two chefs. Working previously as chefs for Bon Appétit on Whitman campus, the new chefs in Lyman prepare all of the meals from scratch and focus on creating meals that are authentically ethnic.

“I want to make the students happy with new experiences and new opportunities,” said Jewett and Lyman Chef Manager Nimal Amarasinghe. “I want everyone to participate so we can get more and more students.”

Cooley admits that this change in policy could have had a smoother turnover among students if it had been marketed beforehand. Students are used to the presence of Lyman Dining Hall food as being interchangeable with the Jewett offered cuisine, and the newly differed purpose of Lyman came as a sudden shock at the beginning of the school year. For students who eat at Lyman at a lower frequency, the new changes are, for the most part, imperceptible.

“I don’t really come [to Lyman] that much so it’s always different,” said sophomore Tino Mori. “The food was really good today.”

However, for students who live in Lyman and anticipate a varied schedule, the new changes are more negatively apparent.

“It’s kind of a gamble. I didn’t like the tacos [they served two weeks ago], so one week was too long,” said first-year Martin Munguía. “However, I like the idea of having a menu that’s different than Jewett.”

The functionality of the new Lyman Dining Hall will continue to be varied issue on campus, and the fate of the food truck will be decided by student majority opinion.

“If it doesn’t work, we’ll definitely do something different,” said Cooley. “We will find something where everybody will be happy.”