Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 3, 2023

SGA pushes to expand dining options and quality

By JOHN CINTRON | September 28, 2023



The conversation between SGA and Hopkins Dining representatives addressed dining-related issues that students face.

The Student Government Association (SGA) held its weekly general body meeting on Sept. 26 to inform Hopkins Dining of significant dining issues and discuss possible improvements. The meeting also included the approval of a bill to fund the upcoming Muslim Student Association (MSA) Barbecue (BBQ), a mental health resources discussion and the approval of a bill to fund tabling for the Sustainability Plan.

Meeting with Hopkins Dining

Hopkins Dining representatives, including the Assistant Vice Provost Matthew Moss, the head executive chef, the marketing specialist and the director of marketing, were present to communicate and receive feedback.

  • Sophomore Virochan Pandit brought current dining issues to light: the severe lack of fulfilling vegan and vegetarian alternative options at dining locations; lack of protein options at the Hopkins Cafe sandwich bar; improper labeling; inaccurate screens; cross contamination (according to a testimony provided by a survey, one student had a bad allergic reaction as a result of this); and no egg-free or vegan dessert options. 
  • Survey results show that 89% of students are dissatisfied with the current vegan and vegetarian options. Only 3% say their protein needs are met. This statistics are worrying considering that freshmen and many sophomores are required to be on a meal plan. Pandit expressed that “we feel that there are limited protein options for vegetarian students on a daily basis.” 
  • The proposed solutions Pandit laid out are to provide more protein options (e.g. tofu, lentils, beans, hummus, paneer and quinoa, etc.); more vegetarian-friendly options at the Hopkins Cafe sandwich bar (e.g. veggie patties, avocado and sprouts, etc.); vegan-friendly sweets (e.g. eggless desserts, oat milk, soy milk, pea milk and smoothies, etc.); training for staff to prevent cross-contamination; more accuracy of the screens; and an increased effort to be consistent with vegetarian options on the weekends as well.
  • Brianna Williams, the director of marketing, gave a presentation on the recent changes made to dining at Hopkins. This included the dining dollars year-to-year rollover and Nutrislice QR codes to view the menus and upcoming events.
  • During the Q&A session, Sophomore Class Senator Srigouri Oruganty pointed out that “a lot of students love that Levering now takes meal swipes, but they are also noticing that portion sizes have decreased, especially in the Wok station.” Oruganty noted that the containers were larger last year. The response from dining was that the containers will increase in size again once sustainable ones become more readily available.
  • Freshman Class President Vishnu Dontu questioned the dining team regarding the cross-contamination, as evidenced by the cafeteria cooks using the same gloves and grill for both meat and meatless burgers. The response from the executive chef is that the staff is not trained like that, and the best thing to do is to make a complaint to supervisors who wear the blue staff polo shirts. 
  • Dontu also brought up a question regarding the extension of meal swipes to lunch at Levering. In response, Moss explained that meal swipes are driven around to manage traffic flow. The operation effects are being monitored this semester, and it is a real possibility.

Mental health resources discussion

Led by Student Body Vice-President Jackson Morris, Sophomore Class Senator Oluwakemi Abiodun and Junior Class Senator Jennifer Tang, this discussion focused on the University’s current mental health resources and how comfortable students feel about reaching out, as explained by Tang. Possible improvements were also discussed.

  • Hispanic/Latinx Caucus Senator and Chair Cynthia Sanchez Hidalgo brought up that the Counseling Center is dangerously understaffed. Sanchez Hidalgo also mentioned that it is problematic to have to meet the same day on which you call, as it hinders students in their busy lives and can be intimidating.
  • Tang suggested that students come to talk in student groups with a counselor present. In response, Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American Caucus Senator Daniel Park expressed his concern regarding the ability to get students to join.
  • Park voiced that students are not using resources because they don’t know about them, and emphasized the need for increased awareness of available resources.
  • Morris gave another possible solution to the issue regarding this lack of awareness. “If there’s any promotion that we can do or student affairs can do and set up a school-wide email, I think that they’d be more than happy to do that,” he said.

Muslim Student Association (JHUMSA) barbecue funding bill

Vice-President of the Senate Nasreen Naqvi proposed the MSA BBQ Funding Bill

  • The purpose of the event is to connect Muslim students across Hopkins by hosting a BBQ in which the graduate Muslim association as well as Pakistani Students Association, South Asian Students at Hopkins, Bangladeshi American Student Association and Arab Student Union are all invited. 
  • Naqvi stated that the BBQ would be an “important event for the Muslim student community.” All students, regardless of religious affiliation, may attend.
  • Arts & Sciences Senator Jaden Garcia questioned the fact that this event had bypassed the finance committee, mentioning that recent bills have been waived too much. Dobbs assured that waiving bills will slow down in the future.
  • The motion to strike the purchase of hot dog buns due to the lack of halal hot dog buns passed.
  • The bill passed unanimously.

Sustainability plan tabling funding bill

Senior Class President Rachel Huang presented the bill to run a small-scale tabling event to promote the Climate Action & Sustainability Plan.

  • The bill passed unanimously.

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