Deis-secting Dining, Part 1: “The Jury is Out”
The Justice asked students what they think of the transition to Harvest Table. Here are some of the responses.
In April 2022, the Response for Feedback Committee unanimously selected Harvest Table as the new dining vendor on campus after 10 years with Sodexo. Students were asked for feedback during this process, and many were anticipating drastic changes to dining prior to the fall 2022 semester. However, the massive undertaking of transitioning to campus, coupled with the largest first-year class in Brandeis history, has created complications for Harvest Table. The vendor, however, has been working to address these concerns, through “Napkin Talk” in the dining halls, a feedback form titled “Your Feedback Matters,” and the “Contact Us” page on the Hospitality website.
From vegetarian to Kosher to gluten-free, students with dietary restrictions have struggled to find consistent and healthy options. At the time that many of these interviews were conducted, there were concerns about signage regarding allergens throughout the dining hall, although that recently has been changed. Here is a non-exhaustive sampling of those comments.
Megan Stander ’25: “Overall I've enjoyed it. I think I usually find something to eat. I wish there were more vegetarian options. There was more variety with Sodexo, I miss the pho station and the vegetarian station in Usdan. I've had one night where the only thing that was offered was pizza, but I usually like the pasta dishes and grilled chicken.”
Ligia Helena ’25: “[There are fewer] vegetarian protein options.”
Meli Jackson ’25: “Absolute worst. No allergen options. Forced veganism? Bad.”
Eitan Marks ’24: “Kosher dining has been a mess. The management is willing to learn, but they simply don't understand. It will take time. The chefs in the kitchen are still doing great, but they are limited with what ingredients and information they are given by management.”
Natanya Greenfield ’26: “I have two documented disabilities … Part of my highly formulated and specific treatment plan requires that I eat no gluten and sugar. On top of this, I am a vegetarian (personal reasons). The amount of non-meat, non-gluten, non-sugar options in the dining hall has greatly limited my dining choices and in many cases left me without viable protein or carbohydrate options.”
Riley Mayberry ’25: “The quality of the food is better but they got rid of a lot of safe foods and a lot of friends in my group that are more picky are having a hard time finding foods to eat.”
Lauren Barkley ’24: “They have very few vegetarian or gluten-free options which limits options for many students. Additionally, their food has been detrimental to my physical health and perishable items are often undercooked.”
Gianna Everette ’25: “Too much chicken. Fish please.”
Since adding completely different options to Upper Usdan, students have been dismayed by the lack of consistency with regard to dietary restrictions. Several students expressed concern after receiving orders that they couldn’t eat. Students are also concerned about price gouging in Upper, compared to Sodexo’s prices.
Mandy Feuerman ’25: “Lower Usdan and Sherman are good, but Upper Usdan has been a disaster.”
Ariana Rich ’25: “They don’t have allergens listed for anything. Half the time they don’t list gluten-free. They really said survival of the fittest.”
Madeleine Reck ’25: “Upper is good, except we were promised a lot that we didn’t end up getting. It’s also extremely expensive – a tiny salad costs 14 points.”
Anthony Ruiz ’25: “I’m a little disappointed that Upper has very [few] meal swipe options (or at least it’s not consistent), and I feel the prices disproportionately increased. I thought there was going to be a more significant change.”
Brandie Garcia ’25: “There aren’t as many options AND the Starship app barely works. I have tried multiple times to order food only to be told my meal exchanges are rejected. I have gone hungry at certain points because of this. Very displeasing.”
Alexander Wicken ’23: “The workers in Upper are … not reading any comments on mobile orders which is a huge issue for people with allergies.”
While students have expressed frustrations regarding Harvest Table, not all feedback was critical. They provided suggestions in addition to positive feedback, as seen below.
Carolina Jacobs ’25: “I like Harvest Table so much better than Sodexo. All the food is healthier and less greasy.”
Facundo Roitman ’25: “Much fresher and healthier. I stan.”
Moses Gordon ’26: “I had low expectations but it was better than I expected.”
Penelope Llibre ’26: “[To be fair] they always have one good thing, especially in Usdan but sometimes it’s bland, which I’m fine with because it means it’s not bad.”
Brandie Garcia ’25: “From what I’ve observed, one thing that Harvest Table is lacking that they maybe haven’t planned yet, is the special/themed food nights that Sodexo would put on.”
Ariana Rich ’25: “They said on the suggestion board that they’d do pho again. But where is it?”
Elizabeth Liu ’26: “Sometimes the food is good. Sometimes it looks bad. Very unpredictable. It would be cool if we could see the menu a week ahead so I could plan out if I want to swipe or use points. It’s definitely edible but I’m not [eating] it enthusiastically, it’s just there if that makes sense.”
Editorial note — This was the first in a series of articles called “Deis-secting Dining.” The Justice would like to highlight student opinions and experiences with Harvest Table. The Justice welcomes any comments, news tips, or photos regarding Harvest Table for future editions.