by Caroline McCarthy & Anna Woods, Staff Writers
On Nov. 18, Manhattan College sophomore Allie Urbanowicz posted a picture of what appeared to be a small worm found in her Locke’s Loft dinner. The photo of the “Broccoli Cheese” soup was posted on her Instagram story in attempt to call out Gourmet Dining for the incident. A popular social media account, Barstool Manhattan, jokingly reposted the picture with the caption “extra protein today @gourmetdiningmc.”
The viral post has sparked interest in the content and quality of other Locke’s dishes, and has inspired another post mocking not only Broccoli Cheddar soup, but all of Locke’s dining hall food. A short video posted on the platform “Tik Tok” showed a ladybug crawling in the salad bar, a piece of molded lettuce on a fork, and of course, the worm. The video has amassed over 415k views and 53k likes in a little over a week
Urbanowicz told The Quadrangle that at first glance, she assumed the worm was a piece of vegetable. She found it “curious” that any vegetables besides broccoli would appear in this dish, and examined it further.
“I scooped it out and came to learn it was a little worm,” said Urbanowicz. “I never expected it to go viral like that. I thought it was just going to be a funny (yet disgusting) picture and incident my friends and I would laugh about,”she said in a written statement to The Quadrangle.
Nick Valinotti, a nine-year employee of Gourmet College at Manhattan College, explained the soups were sourced from Au Bon Pain in frozen containers. Locke’s defrosted and reheated the soup before serving it on the eighteenth.
“As soon as I was advised of it, we removed all soup products from our servery and notified our supplier,” said Valinotti. “We expect the finding reported must have come in one of the bags of soup.”
In the event of an issue like this, Gourmet Dining asks that students address the incident with an onsite Gourmet Dining manager instead of posting on social media. Without an onsite investigation done by staff, the dining services cannot properly report and address the issue with their vendors. Gourmet Dining has a tip line that students may use to contact them
“This is the first time that we have experienced something like this in a ready-to-eat product,” said Valinotti.
The Gourmet Dining staff treated the incident quickly and effectively. As a direct result of this event, Gourmet Dining no longer serves soups sourced from Au Bon Pain and has instead switched to the company “Hale & Hearty.”
“We suspended use of the product and notified the vendors about our concerns about their quality assurance,” said Valinotti. “We take every incident reported with the highest degree of urgency.”
Despite enduring that traumatizing experience, Urbanowicz has continued to go to Locke’s.
“Prior to the incident, I thought the food at Locke’s was good! It was a lot better than my last school’s dining halls so I never really had any complaints … I haven’t stopped going to Locke’s, but I definitely go way less. I really only go when I’m in a rush and super hungry. When I do go, I usually stick to foods such as the fruit or salads now. I don’t think I could bring myself to ever get the soup again.”
Contrasting the incident, Lockes has used the 2019 semester to create major upgrades to their dining services. Changes in the salad bar and yogurt stations were inspired by the wants and needs of Manhattan College students.
“We pride ourselves on listening to what the community has to say,” said Valinotti. “A few examples of this can be seen through the new hydration station setups with the fresh fruit infusions, multiple toasters, larger soup bowls, fresh cut lemons/limes and increased vegan options like vegan pizza at the pizza station or made to order vegan burgers at the grill.”
Many of these changes were put into progress by Manhattan College’s new Dietitian, Sara Deluca and Executive Chef, Jose Apricio.
Gourmet Dining is committed to serving the best quality food to the students and are devastated by this incident.
“We sincerely regret this incident occurred and its potential impact the products we serve,” said Valinotti.