Pasta prevalence persistently pesters “Peggy’s Plate” patrons


Despite lamentations on an Instagram account about pervasive pasta prevalence in Stearns, General Manager of Dining Services Tom Fondakowski wants you to know that, in the dining hall, vegans get love too.

On Saturdays and Sundays, he explained, “[The left hot-meal station] is actually not a vegan station. It is a pasta bar that is part of the brunch program to provide the lunch alternative which makes breakfast [into] brunch, along with our salad bar. So, it actually will have meat and a vegan/vegetarian option in there, as well as a gluten-free option in there.”

According to Fondakowski, pasta is not the only option available. Plenty of options exist for vegetarians and vegans, provided they are asked for. During brunch, there is a sign that lists all the available options for vegans during this time.

The problem, he says, is that not all students are aware of it. The vegan station, also known as “Peggy’s Plate” during weekdays, is a pasta bar on weekends for a reason. “The reason that we offer a pasta bar is so that there is a ‘meat’ component that is not breakfast, because we have a number of athletes on campus that need carbs, and a number of students that might be looking for a lunch component to go with brunch,” Fondakowski said.

The weekday vegan station was dedicated to the life of former Vegan chef, Chef Peggy Edwards, who passed away.

“This particular station has a sign on it that says ‘Peggy’s Plate Vegan Station’ Monday through Friday,” Fondakowski said. “It was done as a dedication to the memory of someone who made a tremendous impact on this campus, and really lived the vegan lifestyle and was the embodiment of what this campus was all about. She was a great resource to students and our faculty and staff as well as our Sodexo staff.”
Chef Jacob Nash runs “Peggy’s Plate” during regular business hours. According to Fondakowski, the students that are experiencing the most confusion about the program change are the freshmen. “When they came to campus, someone in Admissions must have told them that we have a vegan station seven days a week; that is inaccurate; we have a vegan program seven days a week.”

According to Fondakowski, the weekend offerings reflect consumer demand more than anything else although other reasons are relevant as well. “We used to do the vegan station on the weekend, and there was a lot of food waste,” Fondakowski said. “On the weekends, I’d say 40 percent of our customers are athletes, because they are primarily the students that are here on the weekends and they have made it known very clearly that they want their carbs; they want their pasta.”

Fondakowski emphasized the importance of making sure that the options available to vegetarians and vegans during brunch are communicated and that those students communicate their needs as well. How do students who are vegetarian or vegan go about requesting an alternative during brunch? “All a student has to do is just ask for the supervisor. They will help you with that accommodation. It takes a matter of minutes,” Fondakowski said. “If you ever have a question when it comes to dining services, speak to dining services so that we can answer your question to the best of our ability. If you have a problem, we’ll do the best we can to solve it, or at least explain the situation, rather than people making assumptions.”