The Canteen, Friend or Foe?

For most students who walk through the lounge in Martin Hall, the only thing about the Canteen that they notice is the lingering smell of good country cooking. Some students and faculty, however, allege that the food is expensive, unhealthy, and often unappetizing.
Darlene Martin has worked for the Canteen for nine years, and at the NRCC branch for five years. She said that when the Canteen first opened in Martin Hall, it tried to serve food that was healthy and tasty. They would make homemade chicken salad and homemade tuna salad, but the students would not eat it. So she tried things like burgers and chicken nuggets, and that was what the students kept coming back for again and again.
“I try to make what you like,” Martin said. She added, as evidence, that when the students didn’t like the frozen cornbread, she started making it herself from her own recipe. She also said that if a student really wants vegetable soup then she is willing to make it. Martin also feels like a lack of signage and advertisement is partially at fault for a lack of popularity.
Students who complain about the prices may not know that they can get a taco salad for $3.79 or a meatloaf plate with a drink for $5.39 this is not expensive considering that a Southwestern Taco Salad from Wendys is $4.59. Food similar to the food served at the Canteen could be cheaper, but only if you make it at home and bring it with you. If you go to any restaurant to eat you are probably going to pay more by the time you walk out the door, plus the gas to drive there.
On a diet? The Canteen offers a salad bar. Martin also said that she steams all of the vegetables with as little butter as possible and bakes everything that she can. The Canteen tried to sell fruit, but it would go bad before anyone would buy it.
Many New River regulars enjoy the Canteen’s food and appreciate the meals served there. The impressive thing about Martin’s management of the food service facility, though, is its flexibility. If you really want to take advantage of the convenience and value of the Canteen, but you can’t find a single thing that makes you happy, then you just have to ask one of the wonderful ladies who work there.

About Sarah Polan

Sarah Polan entered New River Community College in the summer of 2008 at age 16 after being homeschooled her entire life. She had already been a member of the Roanoke Times "Edge" staff for two years at that point. Sarah came to New River with the dream of rebuilding the long forgotten school newspaper and with the help and encouragement of Janet Hanks and the IT staff, the online Knight Rider was born. Sarah has served as editor and contributing writer for three semesters and continues to coordinate and produce the e-paper biweekly. She also edits an on-line national publication for the Boy Scouts of America Southern Region Venturing division and will be contributing an article to the nationally published Scouting magazine blog. She has also provided a student blog post to the student organization VA21. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys traveling in search of her dream college which she will transfer to next year.
This entry was posted in Campus News, Student Life. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Canteen, Friend or Foe?

  1. still hungry says:

    As I stood at the holding trough hoping to be waited on, the cashier twice walked by me and the cook never acknowledged my presence. Every time I go there, I vow that I’ll not return. Once again, I make that promise to myself.

  2. Colin says:

    O.K. I think Martin is right, student’s have no idea what they can get for what price. Or what the options are for any plate. I’ve seen signs sometimes. Size 8 font at the back wall. Dude, I’m nearsighted and my glasses correct my vision to better than 20/20, but I can’t tell you what the heck is on that sign. It’s just plain embarrassing to walk up with the “wrong” combination of food items and block the line for a good five minutes. The poor cashier tries mental division to come up with a guesstimate of how much a dollop of rice beside your naked 1/4 pounder on a bun is. You smile and apologize that you didn’t know that the cheese and lettuce on the other side of the room was a valid add-on and that rice MUST be put in the MEDIUM bowl NOT the LARGE bowl or the SMALL bowl. The cashier berates you for being a moron, even though she clearly does not know what anything costs either because the prices changed yet again that morning and she hasn’t had time to memorize them. Then you walk out missing the better part of a ten dollar bill and your stomach still growls at you after you finish.

    Have these people ever stopped at Sheetz? Point, select, point, select, point, pay, grab your meal and fly. Satisfaction and a 1/2 pound hot dog. Aaaaaaaaaah.

    I always feel like I’m walking into someone else’s house and raiding their kitchen. I mostly feel like that because I always have to ask myself if that thing over there looks expired or if it looks like little Jimmy already licked it. And while I’m trying to figure out where the buns are hidden some grumpy lady comes out and starts asking if I really want her to heat something else up.

    Well, they do get kudos for the extra protein of the gnat colony procreating in the chili and then ending the circle of life in your catsup beside your corn dog. And the extra keratin left by some hairy person in the macaroni and cheese who must have had a huge itch while deciding will auto-floss your teeth as you chew. And I’ve heard that the crust formed on top of everything under heat lamps is a delicacy in most third world countries. So, I guess for this custom, gourmet meal, we ought to be happy to be getting out alive and with a meal that costs as much as one that is served hot, warm, sanitary, fresh, timely, and with a smile at most other eateries in the Pulaski area.

    Gosh durn it, I’m going to have to go with the unhealthy corn dog yet again. Why?
    1. I can assemble it
    2. I know how much she’s gonna charge me
    3. I can tell there are no tooth marks or finger nail marks in the breading
    4. I trust Banquet’s corporate hygiene regulations
    5. Check-out will go more smoothly (after I re-learn how to enter in the price of my meal in the card reader)
    6. How could they possibly screw up a corn dog?

  3. Past Customer says:

    I used to eat at Canteen, but stopped when they switched to “self-serve”. I have been down there and seen folks messing with their mouth or nose and then go into the bun bag and touch several before they get one. I’ve also witnessed others grabbing food out of the bar, smell of it and then put it back. That is just plain nasty and unsanitary. I would rather gamble with fast food, since it is only a couple of folks touching it instead of a whole student body.

    A lot of times, right at noon everything is already gone and the staff are out socializing in the lounge instead of cooking more food. If you say something about it, they do offer to cook something, but who has time to wait for them to cook upon request…when there is limited times between classes? They should anticipate demand.

    Breakdown the self-serve unsanitary bar and start anticipating demand…I’ll be back.

    I think Darlene does the best job she can. I believe the issues I mentioned are at the management level.