School Food Sucks

The reason I started writing this blog was to provide everyone with options that aren’t school food, because after two years on this campus, I’ve spent far too much money on food that is hardly worth it. If you want to do something about it, read to the end of this post and find out how you can get involved.

Day in and day out, I have seen the same poor quality food being offered at the same painfully expensive prices and realized that I’d rather wake up a few hours earlier before my morning class and prepare my own food. That’s saying a lot because I’m usually up at 6 am to get ready for my first class.

Yes, this is a rant about school food. When the taco “beef” looks more like dog food and the “chicken” looks and tastes like plastic, it’s time to rant at least a little.


School is supposed to provide students with healthy and satisfying options on a daily basis, to will give us the nutrition we need to get us through a day of studying. I mean, the motto is “Eat, learn, live,” but I can barely get through the day eating school food. And I can’t speak for all the students in school, but paying upwards of $10 for a meal is not cost effective. Some days I’m at school for over half the day. Does that mean I have to spend $30 a day at school for three meals? For food that is barely passable in taste? For a student that only works part-time, that cost hurts.

Don’t even get me started on the salad bar. Why am I paying 8 dollars for a few pieces of lettuce and one piece of chicken? And why is my chicken green? And… why is my lettuce brown and soggy? Every time I eat a salad on campus I feel like I’m being robbed of my money and my youth. I recently decided that enough was enough. I went and got a salad off campus. Eureka! I got twice the salad at half the cost. But I was only able to step off campus and walk the round trip 20 minutes because I had the time. People that don’t have the time to step off campus are forced to eat the 8 dollar mystery salad.

I’ve been seeing this mystery truck popping up all over campus.


I thought, finally something to eat other than school food. But then I quickly realized that it’s a school… food truck. Seriously, QC? This is how you’re using our tuition money? To con us not only in the cafeteria but outside too? You mean to tell me that a chicken skewer is 5 dollars?

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Fortunately, there is way we can take a stand against this food tyranny! I have written a few pieces highlighting the food carts near our school (You can check them out HERE and HERE). Now wouldn’t it be fantastic if there were more food trucks? Let’s be honest with ourselves. Even though we’re “city school,” because we’re in Queens we don’t get to see the benefits of being a school in NYC. Manhattan has some of the best food trucks around, and we get no part in it. Our faculty, who suffer the same poor fate as we do in terms of food, have begun to make moves towards getting these very food trucks to our school. Several professors, including Professor Sian Roberts has been working actively with an organization called New York Street Food, which is an organization of food truck vendors and avid food truck followers.

Now this is the most important part. Let’s stop being the passive generation people think we are. Take to the streets! Make a stand! Remember, remember the 5th of… sorry I got a bit carried away there. But there are things we can do as students to get the ball rolling on. First thing first, let’s get as many comments on this page, briefly describing our most awful school food experiences.

I’m sure we all have a ton. Once you do that, if you have a twitter and/or facebook page, go to New York Street Food’s Twitter and Facebook give them a follow and/or like! Or check out their website to see what NYSF is up to!

Sorry for the long post everyone. I just think it’s time we stopped sitting around and made some moves. Now get to eating!



12 thoughts on “School Food Sucks

  1. School foods are not only expensive , the quality isn’t that good either. We need more healthy and reasonable price foods. The foods come out looking stale and not fresh.

  2. Thanks for writing this, Stephen! The state of food on campus is deplorable. So… more food trucks!! ( REAL food trucks, that is, not campus catering masquerading as a food truck)

  3. Thanks for writing this! I’ve gotten food poisoning from on-campus food; I’ve seen stale, wilted, unsafe food put out; and I see how hard it is to find anything that is not junk food. Even the parfait yogurt cups are prefab corn-syrup-sweetened yogurt with sugary cereals in it. When students are buying Snickers bars and soda for a meal, because they don’t trust the prepared food, they are not being served. We deserve better.

  4. One recent experience: The English Department was hosting a visiting novelist, who was a graduate of our department. We had $250 for a reception and were only allowed to order through Chartwells. The menus they made available did not include the cheese and crackers we hoped for, meager as those might have been. We ended up paying $250 for a plate of sad cookies and some coffee.

  5. I agree entirely with all that has been said and will forward this excellent blog to all my students. It seems to me that Chartwells needs a little competition.

  6. Many students don’t know but there are two other food stores on campus (near QCafe in the smaller cafe section) everything there is made fresh. There’s a $5 sandwhich shop and the other has pizza specials (2 slices and a drink for $6, $6.90 with topings) and specials for hot food too (plus they don’t charge by weight)!!!

  7. Thanks for trying to get something going here! Food trucks have always been the norm for student and faculty alike down here in Philly at Penn and Temple – i.e. yours is not an impossible dream. It’s silly that Queens is in the most ethnically diverse county in the US and our food choices are so bland. Food trucks are the answer – let a thousand flowers bloom!

  8. Regarding Jason’s comment: the Chartwells monopoly does make everything more difficult. Departments, clubs, and student organizations have limited funds as it is. When I ran an event last semester, we had to pay them a premium to get the same Edy’s cream we could have picked up from a grocery store.

    • The Chartwells monopoly is the most ridiculous component of our school’s food situation. It makes buying even bottled water for an event over-priced and wasteful. Money from our budgets is basically thrown away, just getting simple items that could have been picked up at a grocery store.

      Monopolies are almost never a smart idea when you’re looking at economic microcosms…which our school essentially is. I get it that some kind of deal was made, but it’s dumb, wasteful, and inefficient.

      Bring back efficient capitalism, QC! Let clubs/organizations use their food budget in other places!

  9. Chartwells is a ridiculous scam. Even if the food were edible, there’s no way to justify the kind of markups they have on such simple items.

    New York City is the cultural capital of the world, it’s insulting to have food this bad here.

  10. Ending the Chartwells monopoly is clearly the first step. Let’s open our campus to independent foodtrucks! It is demoralizing to work in one of the most ethnically diverse places in the world and have no access to the wealth of food available in other locations in Flushing.

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