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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Let's talk about food.

"We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly." -Anna Thomas

Working in admissions gives me the chance to talk to prospective students, in fact, its the entirety of my job. And I love it! But every so often there are questions that throw me off, and take a little more time to process and answer than others. 

Bizarrely enough, this is a question e-mailed to me a couple days ago that rocked me straight off the boat:

"What's the food like?"

Wait what? How do you expect to answer that? Are you referring to quality? Why do you ask? I think it's good? Is this something that's going to make or break your college decision?
Shameless promotion for the best
hot sauce I've ever had.

It took me an hour to answer this question, not something I'm proud of. The extremist in me thought that what I said about food at Prescott College was going to be the sole reason this prospective student would come here, or not. I never thought about the food here versus food anywhere, and so I had to really rack my brain for all the ways food in this town and college atmosphere has affected my life. For a good ten minutes I circled around the idea of my new found affinity and connoisseur-ship for the hot sauces of the Southwest, but that wasn't nearly enough. Why was this so difficult?

Suddenly, by the works of a miracle, the flood gates opened, and I realized how central food is in our community here. 

Unlike the typical college, PC doesn't have a "dining hall" setting. We have our Crossroads Cafe, open from breakfast to dinner, with healthy and natural options that cater to vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free, lactose-free, and your average "omnivore." During finals week, they offer free "brain food" that I swear, saved my sleep-deprived GPA. At my old college, and with most colleges with dining halls, you get a meal plan with a set number of swipes that reflect how many meals you get per day/week. Rather than that, first-time freshman are required to, and anyone can opt to, get a Cafe Card. Personally, I believe this is a much better idea, because you don't have to waste a meal swipe to get a granola bar and coffee, you just deduct it from your card, like a debit card. The Cafe itself is pretty cozy too, and one of my favorite places to meet up with people to study or work on group projects. I feel like no matter when I walk in, I'll see someone I know, and that's a pretty lucky feeling! It's also a pretty popular place to work, whether it be behind the register, baking, or cooking. 

Besides the Crossroads Cafe, the residence halls here are townhouse-style, meaning that on the first floor of every townhouse there is a full kitchen, complete with two stove-top ovens, two fridges, and a ton of counter space. People here tend to love cooking, and cooking together with their housemates. There are three large grocery stores within a walking distance (Fry's, Safeway, and Albertson's), and beginning this semester, every Tuesday and Saturday there will be shuttle services that take residents to further reaching stores, like Natural Grocer's, New Frontiers, and Trader Joe's. 

Then there's Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), in which you and some other friends can sign up to receive a healthy share of locally grown and raised produce, beef, eggs, and sometimes bread and dairy products too!

Now for everyone's favorite day of the week.... Community Lunch. Every Wednesday from 12:30 to 1:30, the conference center is open and filled with soups, bread, and drinks, made by the Crossroads Cafe, and completely free to not only Prescott College students and faculty, but everyone in the community as well. Just
like with the Cafe's served food, they have vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free soup options to accommodate all. It's not rare to see literally everyone on campus at Prescott College getting their fill of soup. It's delicious! It's also the time when student groups, clubs, and organizations announce events and things they're doing on and off campus, and everyone in the community comes and takes a moment from their busy lives to just have a nice conversation with people they may not know that well or see very often. 

Something really popular here are potlucks, or when groups get together and everyone brings a dish or dessert or beverage. I didn't know what those were until I came out here actually, but now it's pretty routine for the end of a class to be synonymous with both a final paper and a potluck! 

I never really experience the idea of "food bringing people together" until I came here, and so looking back at my time here I'm in awe of how much it has strengthened relationships in my life. Whether it be running into someone at the Cafe, or sitting with a group of people at Community Lunch, or ending the semester with a bang at a class potluck/shindig, it all connects back. 

I really hope that answers their question...


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