How to Use the D-Hall

By Dana Ferrante ’17

It’s where you eat; where you do homework; where you procrastinate. The place where you always end up eating inordinate amounts of honey butter on Sunday nights; the place where you can always find at least one of your blockmates.

Yes, I’m talking about the dining hall d-hall. (Let’s be honest, we don’t have time to say the entire phrase.)

But, there are some things about the d-hall you should have time for. Some of these things may be obvious, others not so much. Nonetheless, in the name(s) of sustainability, accountability, and community

Here are FOUR things you can do EVERYDAY to make our dining hall a better place (If you want to be lazy, just read the bolded sections): 

#1 S.O.S

In other words, SAVE OUR SPOONS (and all other silverware and dishes for that matter).

As the school year goes on, plates, glasses, bowls, and silverware magically disappear. Of course accidents happen and things get broken, but when you lose HUNDREDS OF SPOONS in one year, it really makes you wonder where the spoons have gone. In the end, it doesn’t matter where they are going, but the fact that d-hall kitchen has to spend (read: waste) money every year getting new dishware. Whether you care about money, sustainability, or both, it’s clear that disappearing dishware isn’t helping anyone. So here’s my plea to you:

    • DON’T TAKE THE SPOONS/GLASSES/BOWLS/etc. OUT OF THE D-HALL. You probably have better things to stack up in your bookshelf anyways.
    • If you do take something….BRING IT BACK. There is no shame in bringing something back to where it belongs. Gold stars for anyone who does.
    • NEVER, under ANY circumstances throw out the plates & spoons. JUST BRING THEM BACK! That’s honestly downright wasteful. I’d rather you bring back a year’s worth of plates in May than never bring them back at all.

 

#2 SWIPE EVERY TIME YOU EAT

Unless it’s brain break when swiping isn’t necessary, it is EXTREMELY important that you swipe at every meal. We’ve all seen that sign on the checker’s desk (at least subconsciously), and we know we should… but do we really have to? Yes. Here’s why:

  • Swiping helps HUDS know when to have food ready and how much they’ll need. If there is a rush every night at 6:15, HUDS will be ready and armed with red-spice chicken for all only if they know how many people to expect at dinner. By using the swiping data from previous weeks, HUDS can make your red-spice dreams come true. Therefore, swiping helps HUDS, which in turn, helps us.
  • Swiping also allocates money to the house kitchen. In other words, each time someone swipes, a certain dollar amount from the giant HUDS fund is to your house kitchen. If a lot of food is taken, but only a few people swipe, there will be a huge discrepancy in the numbers. By swiping, we do our part in making sure our d-hall is making ends meet.

 

#3 Use trays & dishware sparingly.

This doesn’t mean go tray-less, nor does it mean you should always use a tray. Here’s an outline of the best case scenario:

You’re getting dinner with your blockmate, Bob. Instead of each getting your own tray, Bob gets a tray and you don’t.  Both of you enjoy your Friday afternoon clam chowdah. When you are done eating, you pile everything onto Bob’s tray and send it down the conveyor belt. Water is saved, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Why you and your blockmate Bob deserve a gold star:

By using one tray, you do two things.

  1. You save water, since now only one tray has to be washed instead of one.
  2. You save the conveyor belt from potential damage. Part of the reason why we have trays in the d-hall is to prevent silverware from falling onto the conveyor belt, getting stuck, and breaking the belt. Of course, if one section of the belt isn’t working, everything comes to a halt, causing problem for HUDS staff and students alike. For this reason, going trayless is not the answer, but using them efficiently is.

On this same topic, consider taking one glass instead of three. If you have to get up to get a refill, it’s really not the end of the world. Once again, reducing your usage of cups, plates, and silverware helps reduce the amount of water used to clean the dishes; one less glass a day can make a big difference over time. At the same time, if you are planning to stay in the dining hall for a bit, there is no reason to use the disposable cups and silverware. When dining in, reusable items should always be your first choice.

 

#4 Remember: the d-hall is a COMMUNITY

You live in the best house on campus; let’s keep it that way.

  • Don’t take a bag of bagels when brain break starts at 9pm, leaving your peers bagel-less. That’s just not cool.
  • So you hate what’s on the menu for dinner every Saturday night? Well, that just happens to be Bob’s favorite meal of the week. It is HUDS’ job to meet the MAJORITY taste at every meal, so please be patient if your favorites aren’t on the menu every night.
  • We all are a part of this community, which is why we all have the chance to let our voices be heard. HUDS loves feedback. If you want change, it’s up to you to fill out the HUDS survey each semester or submit a feedback card. Real humans read every comment students make, and it is only through voicing your opinion that changes can be made.

While other d-hall issues are going to take a little more time to tackle, (i.e. getting more recycling bins, how to avoid the chaotic pile of dishes and glasses during brain break), these are a few simple things that everybody can do to make their d-hall the best (and most sustainable) one on campus.

 

If you have any questions/suggestions/concerns, feel free to reach out to me (danaferrante@college.harvard.edu) or the FLP Fellow for your house. We are here to help relay your ideas to Food Literacy Project, HUDS and beyond!

 

Watermelon and Feta Salad

By Dana Ferrante ’17

Nothing tastes more like summer than a bite into the juiciest, pinkest, piece of watermelon and having that sweet pink liquid drizzle all down your face and hands. But watermelon is more than just a sticky finger food: try this simple recipe for watermelon salad, and turn a summer snack into a refined, fork-worthy dish.

But first, what makes or breaks any watermelon salad is, of course, the watermelon. Picking a watermelon is always a gamble. You see a flawless, green speckled watermelon skin and you think “This is going to be the best watermelon I will ever have.” Soon after, you discover the watermelon to be subpar, not nearly as mouthwatering as you had suspected. Here’s how to prevent any further watermelon-induced disappointment:

Step 1. Find a watermelon. Pick it up. Is it heavy? It should feel heavier than you would have suspected for its size. Is it shiny? It shouldn’t be if it’s ripe.

Step 2. Turn the watermelon around until you find the field spot, or the side of the watermelon touching the ground as it was growing. Just like this pictures shows, the field spot should have a yellow, creamy color. The darker the yellow, the better, since more time on the vine means more time to ripen.

watermelon field spot
A cream-yellow field spot.

Step 3. Knock on the watermelon rind with your knuckles. You shouldn’t hear a dull thud, but a lovely hollow sound that means your melon skin is firm and ripe. It’s almost as if your knuckles bounce off the rind when the skin is good and ready.

Now that you know how to pick the perfect watermelon, it’s time to learn how to turn that giant green melon into a succulent salad.

You’ll need…

-a cutting board

-a chef’s knife

-a salad bowl

Serves: 6-8

  • 1 small seedless watermelon (or half of a large seedless watermelon)
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 ½ cups of Greek feta cheese (not pre-crumbled)
  • ½ cup of basil (or mint)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime (or ½ lemon) OR 1 tablespoon of lime (or lemon) juice
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Cut watermelon into 1-inch cubes, or use a melon baller to make bite size pieces. Slice red onion into half moons. Slice the block of feta in ½-inch cubes. Chiffonade basil (or mint). Then, put all these ingredients into your salad bowl.

Drizzle EVOO, lime (or lemon) juice and balsamic vinegar, and then toss. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper to your liking.