Community, Features

BU students create Instagram page dedicated to reforming dining hall food

Another food-themed Instagram account has hit the internet. But, unlike the traditional foodstagram, it’s not showcasing aesthetic avocado toast.

The @bubadeats Instagram page. The account allows Boston University students to send in photos of dining hall meals that did not meet their expectations. ILLUSTRATION BY THALIA LAUZON/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

A Boston University freshman in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, who asked to remain anonymous, created @bubadeats on Instagram with several of their floormates.

The account was created out of frustrations with the quality, quantity and taste of BU’s dining hall food. BU students can submit photos of dining hall meals they find disappointing, unhealthy, or not “up to par.”

“It’s not an account to complain,” the student said, “rather just voicing our concerns and raising awareness for the food that we’re getting.”

The account, which launched Dec. 13, has more than 80 followers and posts comparisons between the food students have received from a dining hall and a “normal” version of the meal, according to the account.

Some photos are captioned with specific criticisms, such as a dead fly in a salad.

@bubadeats has gained both approval and criticism from the BU community, the account’s creator said. While some students have left comments defending the dining halls, others have contacted the account to share their grievances with the food’s quality.

“We’ve gotten lots of text, emails, DMs,” they said, “and from what we’ve heard, [the] majority of people are on board. They’ve had similar experiences.”

The account owners are hoping to raise awareness about students’ experiences with BU dining and inspire change.

“Once we have a collection big enough, because we know so many people have been dealing with this, we’ll see where to take it,” they said, “and hopefully take it to the next level.”

The student said these food-related complaints are worth sharing, because under a BU meal plan — except the unlimited plan — every meal swipe exceeds $10.

“You could go out to Chipotle and get something for 8, $9, and be much more satisfied than you were with the dining halls,” they said.

BU spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email that nearly all of the changes BU dining has made this Fall — such as the take-out model, disposable containers, service-model changes and lack of self-serve stations — have been necessitated by public health guidance.

“BU Dining has a very strong commitment to the safety of our staff,” he wrote, “and that has changed the format of how we provide meals and beverages during the pandemic.”

Certified nutritionists from SAR carefully review the dining hall menus, Riley wrote. He added that pictures on @bubadeats are old and not representative of what the dining hall serves daily.

Riley wrote that, along with in-person visits, students can reach the dining hall through a virtual “contact us” option on BU Dining Services’ website, where staff can respond to feedback.

“Dining staff, like all of us, can sometimes make mistakes,” he wrote. “The important thing is to encourage students to speak directly with the dining hall managers or the executive chefs if they have concerns, or they feel the meal they were served did not meet their expectations.”

In terms of on-campus eating habits, there has been a “large shift in student consumption patterns,” Riley wrote — this year, students typically visit the dining hall once a day and take more food than in past years, when they would eat there about twice a week.

Hannah DiPilato, a sophomore in the College of Communication, found she did not eat in the dining halls often despite paying for an Apartment Plan.

“I thought I would go to the dining hall a lot, because freshman year I lived in Warren [Towers] and I went to the dining hall all the time and I really liked it,” DiPilato said. “But this year I found myself never really liking anything on the menu.”

DiPilato said the inability to customize meals was difficult because it limited her dining options, and when she wanted to use dining points, those locations would often close early.

“I definitely ate a lot of Raising Cane’s chicken fingers, but other than that, pretty much everything closed before dinner time,” DiPilato said. “If you wanted dinner, it was pretty much dining hall or chicken or nothing.”

Andrew Shulov, a freshman in the Questrom School of Business, wrote in an email he had lost weight since coming to school, and was not satisfied with the dining hall.

“There were days when there were some options that weren’t horrible,” Shulov wrote, “but overall it was not a great experience.”

COM sophomore Griffin Morrill said for him, the dining hall changes were not impossible to overcome, but required an adjustment.

“I just had to adapt to it,” Morrill said. “I took the cereal cups that they would provide at lunch, and I’d bring it to my dorm and buy milk to have breakfast … I feel like I definitely went to the [George Sherman Union] more.”

Morrill said he thinks the Instagram account is good for awareness. However, he understands that BU Dining Services is doing “a pretty decent job,” given all the restrictions it must abide by.

“They are trying to serve thousands of students daily and they’re trying to give [food] to a variety of people with tons of different options, allergies, restrictions,” he said. “I feel like they still do a pretty good job, it’s just kind of limited.”

Despite these limitations, the account creator said they hope raising their voice on social media will better the dining hall experience.

“We hope that we can help everyone and make a change,” they said. “It’s not anything against the dining hall workers or the institution itself, it’s just looking out for the students.

One Comment

  1. It is awesome to pay 5500 dollars a year for mediocre food, breakfast cereals and chicken fingers. Also enough already with the gluten free crap. Have a salad you cry babies. When I was at BU the vegetarian dining room was a pasta bar and some lettuce

    The fact that there is a Panda Express in GSU is a joke. Granted there used to be a Burger King and Pizza Hut but at least it wasn’t low rent faux Chinese,

    If anything. Invest in more plant based options and BU needs to cut the plan prices for the duration of the pandemic by at least 33%.