Racist cafeteria food?: Oberlin College Cafeteria

Published: December 23, 2015

Racist cafeteria food?: Oberlin College Cafeteria, The Oberlin College cafeteria is the latest subject on racial issues. According to several reports, students there are concerned that cooks aren’t skilled at multicultural food preparation.

The New York Times reports that students at the college in Oberlin, Ohio, are accusing the campus dining department and Bon Appétit Management Company with a barrage of offenses that “range from cultural appropriation to cultural insensitivity.”

Members of the black student union protested outside of the Oberlin College cafeteria – the Afrikan Heritage House … demanding more traditional meals that included fried chicken.

“I would like to see Bon Appétit fired and replaced by something other than an international corporation,” wrote student, Kendra Farrakhan, in the Oberlin Review. “I would like to see the chefs have the respect and autonomy to cook the food they love.”

Some other arguments surrounding the Oberlin College cafeteria choices had to with authentic dishes. As the Times report, some of the culinary bashing had to with a “soggy, pulled-pork-and-coleslaw sandwich that tried to pass itself off as a traditional Vietnamese banh mi sandwich; a Chinese General Tso’s chicken dish made with steamed instead of fried poultry; and some poorly prepared Japanese sushi.”

A student from Japan joined in on bemoaning the racial food issues at Oberlin College.

“When you’re cooking a country’s dish for other people, including ones who have never tried the original dish before, you’re also representing the meaning of the dish as well as its culture,” said Tomoyo Joshi. “So if people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as ‘authentic,’ it is appropriative.”

Communications director for Bon Appétit Bonnie Powell said in an email that the company hears student complaints and plans to address them.

“We appreciate the feedback we have received from Oberlin students. Our chefs are working hard to offer culturally sensitive menus that will appeal to the Oberlin community,” Powell wrote in an email.


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