Students divided over Low-Impact Thursdays

Low-Impact Thursdays have made a huge impact with the Mercyhurst student body, but not quite in the way the dining services expected.

A recent survey, conducted by Egan Dining Hall, indicates that many students would like to eliminate Low-Impact Thursdays entirely.

Low-Impact Thursdays are described as the lunchtime meals that are served in the Egan Dining Hall each Thursday afternoon.

The meal options are served mostly in the sections of Spoon and Fork, Bravisimo, and The Grille. Other options are presented atop tables in the center of the dining area and can have themes varying from pots of hot soups or an array of taco ingredients.

According to Dean Schoenfeldt, general manager of the Mercyhurst Dining Services, “the low impact is about creating awareness of locally-sustainable organic products; farm-based, local-based, plant-based foods.”

Considering that students may not like the extent of plant-based and vegetable options offered on Low-Impact Days, Schoenfeldt also added that even though these meals “tend to be viewed as vegan,” they do offer proteins and meats as well that encompass the theme of local-based foods.

When asked his opinion about why students are unhappy, Schoenfeldt said, “I think it is about perception, and what we’re trying to do is educate them on why we do it. This is a college program that was initiated by Mercyhurst; it was requested by the university on a sustainability standpoint.”

Schoenfeldt went on to explain that Parkhurst, the dining services provider, supplies at least 30 percent of Egan’s products in the local circle, meaning within 150 miles of Mercyhurst.

As many students who voice concerns for Low-Impact Thursdays, Schoenfeldt states that there are just as many who enjoy it. One of these students is freshman Shelby Maberry, who says that she likes the low-impact concept because “it branches out from the everyday Egan food…there are more options to choose from.” She also likes the fact that the food is locally grown, because that usually means it is fresher.

Lucky for students like Maberry, Schoenfeldt has said that Egan will continue with the Low-Impact Days in the coming years, because as previously stated, “there is as much of a community that likes this meal as there are those who are concerned with it.”