If The Harvard Crimson’s FlyByBlog replicated its namesake, it would probably run the same posts for several days in a row. The articles wouldn’t be fresh or interesting, and you’d probably finish reading them completely unsatisfied. That’s bad in a blog, and it’s even worse in a lunch service.
I would give the Harvard University Dining Services’ Fly-By option an “F” for its food, for its freshness, and for the word I think of whenever I must once again bypass the congealed baked ziti offering. Indeed, HUDS’ self-proclaimed “basics-only bagged lunch grab-n-go” in the basement of Annenberg Hall is horrendous and should be reformed immediately.
The food is terrible. The sandwiches are cold and generally lack flavor, having been stored in a refrigerator for far too long. The side options, including mediocre yogurt and fruit far beyond ideal ripeness, are underwhelming at best. The hot option is usually an unappealing variation of sauce-covered pasta. Fly-By simply makes for an unpleasant dining experience.
Additionally, Fly-By lacks sufficient variety. Why, dare I ask, in the two times that I went there in one week, was one of the soup options peanut soup? HUDS’ peanut soup proved it didn’t deserve to exist on just one sampling, and although I didn’t try it again, I could probably guess that it wasn’t much better on the second go-around. Please don’t dump unwanted faux-curry sauce on us and expect us to eat it. Furthermore, there should be more than just one hot entrée option. Cheesy pasta with tomato sauce doesn’t cut it as the only main dish, especially when it’s served with Fly-By’s frequency.
Fly-By’s lack of variety compounds a larger issue; the food that is served is unhealthy. The idea of eating a meal you don’t like and that won’t benefit your body is doubly offensive. For those of us who use Fly-By, there should be a wider range of healthier options (sorry, bruised clementines and dry salad-in-a-cup don’t count).
Admittedly, adding more options to Fly-By’s roster as suggested might slow down the dining process. However, the assumption that all Fly-By patrons want a quick lunch is largely false anyway. Often, students go to Fly-By simply because the location or times are convenient. Fly-By is the only free lunch option available to upperclassmen near the Science Center. It is also the only viable option near the Yard for students who must eat before a 12 p.m. class. No River House dining halls are open at 11:30 a.m. Therefore, HUDS should certainly keep fast options available, but speed-eating requirements shouldn’t preclude better options for the rest of us.
Because many students are, in fact, able to have a leisurely lunch, Fly-By should be more environmentally friendly. Many students sit down to eat and do not, in fact, grab-n-go. In addition to the plastic bags, cups, and utensils Fly-By offers for portable lunches, HUDS should provide trays, glasses, and silverware for students who have more time to eat. If HUDS is truly committed to sustainability, then Fly-By should be greener.
Ultimately, students should come to Fly-By hungry and leave happy. Just a few changes could make that happen. Whenever it happens, we’ll be sure to let you know. Just be sure check out FlyByBlog.
Elizabeth C. Bloom ’12, a Crimson editorial comper, lives in Currier House.