By: Rory Gresham and Holly Haber
When you step into Rockland, expect to be greeted by a dining staff that’s friendly and a menu that many say is far less felicitous.
To enter the banquet hall, you must swipe your meal card- which charges your account $11 for entry. Once inside, you have a variety of options that are on display, sections with inviting names like “Hometown,” “The grill,” “Salad Bar,” “Pasta Station,” “Vegan Station, “Sandwich station,” “Omelet station,” and so on. While there is quite a variety of stations, meals typically tend to be the same each week.
For those who have food allergies and sensitivities, Rockland does not have much to offer. A Junior student at Stevenson who asked to remain anonymous lives gluten-free, which isn’t easy at Rockland. “I never can really find a suitable meal in the dining hall,” the student said. “My choices are [very] limited. I wish there were more than salad and a gluten-free pasta alternative. My family and I are paying a lot of money for this meal plan- and to watch it go to waste is frustrating.”
Rockland’s menu typically consists of a surplus of bread, fried food, pizza, soup, etc. These are all gluten-containing foods that limit the menu for many students.
You must be content with Rockland’s Banquet Hall menu as is. To enjoy the food, you must be a meat-eater with lots of room for gluten-filled desserts. “As a vegetarian, I was stuck eating beans nearly every day,” said a Stevenson junior.
That student said he had a challenging time finding options and was forced to rely on the same meal most days. “I was relieved to have my own kitchen this year and not have to pay for a wasted meal plan after two years on campus,” he said.
The menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner are updated every day on Rockland’s website, where you can find every meal, plus nutritional facts, allergen, and diet keys. You can click on certain allergen icons to exclude any items that exclude your specific allergen.
On December 8, 2021, 80 items were posted for dinner, including toppings at the salad bar and sandwich station. When clicking on the vegan icon to exclude all non-vegan meals, this left only 36 items on the menu. Most of the options were several types of bread/tortillas and salad toppings. Rockland does provide a “Vegan Station,” but there are only three food options at that station for thousands of students with a diversity of limitations and allergies.
Another anonymous source, a first-year student with a meal plan, had almost nothing positive to say about the food served at the dining hall. Despite her displeasure she hey eats there regularly for convenience and because the meals are pre-paid. “The food here has a very distinct smell and taste, which is not good,” she said. “They serve almost the same thing every day. Our only hope here is Pandini’s.”
Some of the backlashes are documented in photos posted on the Instagram account, @su.lovely.rocklandpandinis_ . The student-run account regularly shows photos of Rockland meals that the site owners consider questionable.