In Response to “Picky Eaters”

Dear Editors,

I would like to respond to the article published in the last issue titled “Picky Eaters: Quest Could Do Better.”

I must admit that I am biased. Over the past few years, I have grown quite close to the cafeteria staff as they’ve helped me put on the Fall Feast, facilitated my teaching students about the science of bread, and offered me plenty of friendly smiles and conversation. Not to mention the roughly 1.5 meals a day that they so lovingly provide for me.

The article published in the previous “Weekly” showed an unfortunate dismissal of hard work a and lack of gratitude. I question whether the writer explored what really goes into feeding the many hungry mouths at Parker. Just ask Jayme how she makes the bagels. Early mornings, scalding hot water, finger-crippling repetition, and an immense amount of passion are just a few of the key components of the process. And that’s just for something most of us eat for a snack.

So when the writer stated that “The cafeteria tries too hard,” it makes me wonder whether the writer did a thorough investigation of the work that goes into feeding our community. Especially considering that the only concrete suggestion for improvement was to simplify what they cook in an attempt to please the masses. “Keeping it simple” does not tend to make everyone happy. Humans crave a varied diet on a physiological level. Furthermore, Quest DOES keep it simple by leaving out all of the extraneous emulsifiers, thickeners, and other chemical additives that are often hidden in our favorite packaged foods.

Finally, I found the statistics to be rather unconvincing given the nature of the survey. Firstly, it was only distributed to the Upper School, and only 92 Upper Schoolers responded. In the context of a community which is composed of grades JK-12 and the faculty and staff, it is clear that a sampling of 92 Upper Schoolers is not an accurate representation of the cafeteria’s customer base. Lunch lines that wrap around the hallway, composed of students anxious to sink their teeth into house-made pulled pork sandwiches or crispy grilled cheese might serve as a better indicator of the cafeteria’s success.

The cafeteria staff wants nothing more than to please its customers. And the only way for them to do so is if we provide them with actionable feedback, not simplistic criticisms.

-Ben Weiss ’16