Grasshoppergate: The State of Villanova Dining



A grasshopper was notoriously found in a salad at Belle Aire Terrace in late November.

Sofia Krzewicki, Staff Writer

As Villanova students prepared to leave for Thanksgiving break, a video posted to a non-university affiliated account became the talk of campus. The live grasshopper trapped in a sealed, pre-packaged Belle Aire Terrace salad quickly rose to stardom, after making its social media debut on @barstoolnova. 

That week, Yik Yak, a pseudonymous social media application popular with college students, was riddled with references to the grasshopper. It soon replaced talk of the Taylor Swift Eras tour. Students outwardly expressed their disgust and discontent with the state of Villanova Dining Services. With meal plans ranging from $1,000-$4,000 and based on class year, residential status and personal preference, quality food should be a given. 

The presence of an insect—a live one, at that—could have had serious consequences to the individual who consumed the salad. Students should be able to eat without fear of consuming insects—dead or alive. 

The individual who brought the salad recalled her experience.

“I didn’t even see it when I bought it, so when I opened it up I just saw the green thing on the lid and I assumed it was a leaf,” she said “The[n] I saw it move and kind of freaked out…I actually never brought it back up to the workers…I actually just ended up throwing it out.” 

Tony Alfano, Villanova’s Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services, oversees Dining Services, among other areas.

“Dining Services was made aware of the video on social media, and the experience this student had was unacceptable,” Alfano said. “Villanova Dining Services takes this matter very seriously and has spoken with its vendor to find out how something like this could have occurred. Dining Services has suspended use of the produce used in these salads and is assessing other options to bring in for our customers.

“Villanova Dining Services is committed to serving only the highest quality product, as well as the cleanliness of both its food and facilities. Dining Services receives fresh produce deliveries five days a week. Products are visually inspected at our loading docks when received, and once again when being prepared by our chefs. Additionally, most produce is washed when packaged for shipment from our suppliers. As a final step upon receipt, our staff then washes all produce once again before being prepared for service. Any time an issue is brought to Dining Services attention, we take the matter very seriously and work to address it.”

This was indirectly echoed in the SGA’s monthly newsletter released to the Villanova community on Dec. 1.

“SGA is in the process of working with Dining Services on improving our food on campus,” it said. “Dining Services is no longer working with the specific vendor after a complaint about the quality of food.”

Then again, the video was posted on Nov. 17. It took two weeks for it to be addressed. Students were waiting for a statement from the University, or at least Dining Services, to acknowledge the situation, take ownership and promise improvement. 

However, the food quality is not the only thing that Dining Services needs to improve. It is only one issue in a pattern of flaws from a seemingly flustered, overworked Dining Services at the University. 

For example, the online menus available on the Dining Services website and on Nova Now are riddled with daily inaccuracies. 

The online menu is a helpful tool for all. It can help students discern where and what they want to eat. If the fried chicken sandwich at Dougherty Hall or the Gyro bar at Donahue Court does not suit one’s fancy, then a meal swipe will not be wasted, and students can choose to eat at another location. However, at times, there are items listed on the online menu that are not available in the dining hall. 

The most common menu items that were unavailable in person but seemingly available on the menu were vegetarian or vegan options, such as the Meatless Meatballs or Grilled Veggie Burger. This is particularly frustrating for those who have dietary restrictions or rely on the online menu to make sure there is something for them to eat. Additionally, at times, whole stations were unavailable in person: most often, this was the Made to Order Sandwich station. 

This is a simple fix for Dining Services that can only improve the quality of the service.

But, of course, improving the quality of the food itself is the most important problem that needs to be rectified.