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You Can Take It With You

The Crimson Staff Editorial


In the last few weeks, the staff of Annenberg Hall has been cracking down on students taking food to go. First-years attempting to take a sandwich out of the hall are being reprimanded and even asked to abandon their lunch at the door.

What nonsense. Not all of us have time every day to enjoy a complete meal while seated. A bagged lunch only helps when we do not have time to get to the dining hall at all. And if we want to grab something for a between-class snack, we should not have to feel like criminals for doing so--especially not when we are paying for the food willy-nilly.

In justifying the crackdown to The Crimson, Annenberg Manager Kay D'Andria said she and her staff were only trying to keep everyone healthy. Students, she said, may take a sandwich and not eat it, put it in their pocket, and, if it has mayonnaise or something, it could get contaminated. Talk about far-fetched. We trust our peers to remember when they have stowed an entire sandwich in a pocket and to think twice before biting into food that's been sitting in their jacket for a week. If anything, the crack-down is only detrimental to first-years health, given that nutritionists have often argued that it is healthier to consume numerous small meals and snacks throughout the day than to eat three large meals.

According to the director of Dining Services Ted Mayer, the real issue at hand is not health but waste. Students feel they are entitled to take food in exchange for missed meals, Mayer said, and end up taking more than they need. But the vast majority of students who take food to go are not being vindictive or wasteful; they are just trying to get enough to eat.

Mayer also says students are only questioned when they take large amounts of food to go, not a bagel or a banana. But the evidence in Annenberg seems to suggest otherwise. We urge the Annenberg staff to abandon its heightened militancy and follow the lead of the houses, where, thankfully, the policy goes largely unenforced, and the dining atmosphere is not antagonistic but civil. We also urge Harvard Dining Services to provide paper bags and containers so that students will have the flexibility to eat on the run. Given the almost nonexistent flexibility of the current meal plan, it is heartless to attempt to close this small yet vital loophole in the system.

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