by Melina Korfonta ‘25
From networking events to research studies, promotional posters have cluttered the doors of dorm halls, classrooms, and other surfaces throughout high-traffic areas of Trinity’s campus. This week, however, “I Got E. Coli at Mather” lined the Long Walk and lower Long Walk lamp posts. This campaign against Chartwells, Trinity’s food service provider, has been imminent.
Via their website, Chartwells claims that they are, “re-inventing the on-campus dining experience…challenging the norm and setting new standards,” as they “believe serving healthy and nutritious food provides a foundation for lifelong learning.” The so-called “Belly-Ache Bantams” at the heart of the Change Chartwells campaign, however, demand change.
In response to allegedly contracting E. Coli from consuming food produced in Mather Hall, Makayla Boucher ’23 sent out a message to the Trinity community via SGA President Jason Farrell. This message, linked to a Google Form, encourages students to express their frustrations with Chartwells. In her message Boucher stated, “ I have created this survey in order to assess the student experience with our current dining services, Chartwells. I created this so that our voices can be heard honestly in a conversation about how we feel about our current dining facilities, food, and experiences. It won’t take long to fill out, and overall we play a role in our experience here, so why not make it the best we can?” Although it is not clear if Boucher was the student that allegedly contracted the E. Coli virus from Mather Hall, she is the only student involved in the campaign that has come out by name.
Garnering almost 200 followers in less than a week, @changechartwells, the Belly-Ache Bantams’ Instagram page, has been updating students on the movement and results of the survey demanding “basic safety, nutrition, & health from Chartwells dining services @ Trin. take e. coli & tummy aches off the menu. together we demand more.” Captioning their first post of the flyer posted around campus, they introduce their campaign by saying, “this is a movement to change the chartwells food and dining system at trinity college. i contracted e. coli eating at trinity dining facilities and i›m sure there are many more. students often feel ill after simply consuming this food & we must demand better. there is a survey in bioFILL IT OUT. SEND TO THE HOMIES & every student @ this institution. stop settling for sub-acceptable unsanitary/ nonnutritious standards and let›s start thiss revolution.”
On the first day of their survey being live, @changechartwells gathered over 200 responses in less than 24 hours. After SGA sent the survey out to the entire student body, the Belly-Ache Bantams reported that they are collecting arcontinued from page one chives of student experiences with Chartwells, even reaching out to Alumni for their insight. In addition to “looking into the Chartwells contract,” the BellyAche Bantams are also providing an email template for students to use when contacting Chartwell’s corporate offices. Now with over 300 responses, the survey closed on Friday, October 21st. Once the information is collected, @ changechartwells claims to fuel demands based on the experiences students share. Although it is unclear when the results of this survey will be revealed, “this bantam banter isn’t going away 😉 stay tuned, belly ache bantams.”
This campaign against the food service Chartwells is not the first to be brought up against the company. In 2020, Chartwells was in the headlines for their poor response to quarantine meals at New York University. Kevin Kurian, Deputy Opinion Editor for Washington Square News and NYU student said, “NYU’s dining provider, failed to provide quarantining students with adequate meals. Many students in quarantine weren’t provided food for an entire day, and those that did found themselves with inadequate meals that often went against their dietary restrictions.”
Seemingly in response to the Trinity student-run campaign, Chartwells of Trinity’s Instagram account (@trindining) posted a question sticker to their Instagram story for students to add their “Questions, comments, or concerns about your dining experience.”