On a typical day in PLNU’s dining hall, better known as the caf, one wouldn’t be surprised to hear students complaining about its “limited options” or questioning the food’s overall quality. In fact, PLNU’s dining services are a hot topic of conversation among the university’s students. With four options for food and beverage services (Point Break Café, Bobby B’s, Breaker’s Market and the caf), all under Sodexo, a food service and facilities management company, it seems that many students are generally unimpressed.
Senior Wyatt Fiddyment expressed his disappointment after his recent experience at Point Break Café. On Feb. 7 at around 11:30 a.m., Fiddyment stopped at PBC to enjoy an Aloha Burger before heading to work in the admissions office. After taking a few bites of what used to be one of his favorite meals at PBC, Fiddyment was shocked to find a foreign object in his food.
“I was about halfway through my meal and I bit into my burger once, twice, and on the third bite felt a sharp pain in the back of my mouth,” Fiddyment said. “I immediately spit it out thinking it was a piece of bone in the meat, but was dismayed to find that my gum was bleeding, and there was a shard of metal in the bite that I had just taken.”
Fiddyment isn’t the first person to have an unfavorable encounter with one of PLNU’s dining services. In fact, there is an entire Instagram account dedicated to poor caf/PBC experiences called @antiplnudining that showcases photos and stories of foreign objects, bugs, mold, etc. found in students’ food. Some of the content includes screenshots of direct messages, even a few by former caf employees, detailing shocking allegations of food mishandling and unsanitary conditions. All of the posts are anonymous, however, as well as the account itself.
Sophomore Bella Dempsey also recently made an unpleasant discovery when she found a large piece of plastic in her dinner at the caf last Thursday.
“It was kind of unsettling and it caused me to lose my appetite,” Dempsey said. “It concerns me that experiences like this one seem to be so frequent. I’m incredibly grateful to come to this amazing school and have food so readily available to me, but this experience was not pleasant.”
The Point reached out to PLNU dining’s general manager Danielle Klinkhamer and retail manager Erick Cubero for a response to these allegations.
“We take physical safety and food safety very seriously…If something is ever found in the food we serve, we do our own investigation to identify exactly where it came from and how that happened,” Klinkhamer said. “We have very thorough procedures in place to try to make sure that incidents like this are avoided. As a company, we only purchase from validated vendors. we have extensive logs that we use to keep track of everything that we prep… and all of our employees are required to be certified in food safety. Then we have the County Health Department that does inspections twice a year. Our company, Sodexo, also pays for a third party auditor, Eco Sure, to do inspections twice a year on both physical and food safety.”
According to Cubero, the retail stores (PBC, Bobby B’s, and Breaker’s) all received a 99 percent on their recent health inspection conducted by the County Health Department, and the caf received a 96 percent.
“We are serving about 2,500 meals a day for about 250 days out of the year…The reality is that the more food is made from scratch, the more opportunities there are for different elements to play a factor…it does happen. If we are given the information about these situations when they occur, we do full investigations to try to prevent it,” Klinkhamer said.
Are these isolated incidents? Or do these students’ stories, and many more, say otherwise?