"I Love the DC" Essay Contest 2016

Why I Love the DCs- 1st Place Winner

Jamie Armstrong, Senior Psychology Major 

One of the most crushing aspects of my upcoming graduation is the realization that my daily visits to the dining commons are nearing an end. But why is UMass Dining so special? First and foremost, the variety of dishes available on a daily basis has kept my palate satisfied, even after years of eating at the dining halls daily. Not only have the dining halls introduced me to cuisines of countless different cultures, but it also makes it easy for historically unhealthy eaters like myself to enjoy dishes that are as beneficial to the mind and body as they are satisfying to one’s taste buds.

The special events, from Alaskan Seafood to Canadian Night, have provided incredible opportunities to enjoy mouth-watering, succulent dishes while also allowing students to hear and learn from some of the best chefs around the world. On top of all of this, UMass’ commitment to leadership in sustainability is driven largely by the committed staff at UMass Dining. Two hundred words isn’t nearly enough to describe everything I love about it, but just one stop by a D.C. is enough to help anyone understand why UMass Dining is so accurately considered the best in the nation. 

Why I Love the DCs- 2nd Place Winner

Cody Knight, Junior Resource Economics Major

The perfect college experience involves not only getting a high quality education, but also maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle.  Here at UMass, I am extremely lucky to get both, thanks to our fantastic faculty and, of course, the award-winning UMass Dining program.  The dining commons on campus provide me with an innovative selection of foods, along with a fun environment and a mission for health and sustainability.  When my studies start to overwhelm me, I can always count on the dining commons to provide me with a great meal and a place to gather with friends or just study.  In many cases, a busy lifestyle often leads to poor nutritional decisions, but here at UMass, I know I have options that are not just healthy, but also local and sustainable.  Aside from the everyday experiences I have in the dining commons, we are also given the opportunity to watch a variety of guest chefs discuss and demonstrate delicious and unique recipes.  My favorite annual event is definitely the Flavours of Canada special dinner where we get to try amazing foods, and also form a friendly community with the visiting chefs.  I love UMass, and I LOVE the DC!

Why I Love the DCs- Tied 3rd Place Winner

Elysia Farrell, Freshman Business Major

The reason I love the DC… tough question with all of the delicious food and friendly workers, but I would have to go with my dad. My dad went to school at UMass Amherst almost 40 years ago, since then my two older sisters, my older brother, and myself have all attended with hopes that my little brother will join the Farrell Family legacy next year. My dad, the self-acclaimed food critic, raves over UMass dining. Every time he visits he loves greeting the workers at the swipe in, proudly stating that he is my father, knowing it warrants a free meal. He then enjoys “taking a lap” at Hamp, awe struck at all the choices we have that weren’t offered to him when he was a student here. He tells my bother and I how happy it makes him to know that we are in good hands when it comes to our nutritional health while at school. Seeing my Dad so proud that we are not only attending his alma mater, but we are thriving here, is something that brings me joy, and I owe a lot of that to UMass dining. 

Why I Love the DCs- Tied 3rd Place Winner

Vincent Giacalone, Junior Microbiology Major

I love the UMass Dining Commons because they have helped me to develop as a student and as an individual.  Before coming to college I always preferred to avoid vegetables except for the occasional salad- and by salad I mean lettuce and carrots.  I had no interest in expanding my pallet for the wonderful variety of produce that could be grown in my home state of Massachusetts.  When I came to UMass three years ago, it did not take long to realize the error of my ways, and UMass Dining was the driving force behind this epiphany.  In my time at UMass I have met Joe Czajkowski, a local farmer who provides produce to our Dining Commons like broccoli and carrots, Dan Conlon a beekeeper at the Warm Color’s Apiary, and famous Indian chef Suvir Saran.  I have been exposed to so many different foods and cooking styles that I have gradually become more adventurous in my tastes.  I am now a big fan of cauliflower and spinach, something I never imagined before.  Somehow UMass dining even convinced me to run a 5K, which seemed even more unlikely than expanding my interest in produce.  I love the DCs because of the energy they provide me to keep me going as a student and the memorable experiences with friends and colleagues.  

Why I Love the DCs- Honorable Mention

Tyler Plofker, Senior Accounting Major

As a graduating Senior, and four year dining commons veteran, I can easily say that I love the DCs.  I remember the first time I ate at one of the dining commons (Worcester) during summer orientation – absolute paradise compared to what I’d been subjected to in high school!  I was around for old Hamp, enamored with its delicious burritos and ice cream.  I even remember, quite fondly, the period when Hampshire was being renovated and Hampden was acting as a DC (with all Baby Berk trucks taking meal swipes as well).  However, the vast majority of my meals at UMass have taken place at Berkshire; I love the variety (health wise and culturally), late night, the atmosphere, and especially Clam Chowder Fridays! 

All the dining commons share a few important characteristics: breadth of options, attentive staff, and – most importantly – absolutely delicious food.  That really is the best part isn’t it?  The food is incredible, and you can eat as much of it as you want!  During my four years here I’ve been able to try new and delicious foods, eat healthy, and eat to my hearts delight; and I can’t think of a much more perfect eatery experience than that!

Why I Love the DCs- Honorable Mention

Julia Shaughnessy, Freshman Neuroscience & Psychology Major

The UMass Dining Commons experience is one that I’m truly thankful to have. Not only can I find something that makes me feel at home, I often have the opportunity to be simultaneously transported to an entirely new part of the world. From guest chefs of all different backgrounds, to special holiday menus that celebrate the diversity here at UMass, I have expanded my horizons and have tried so many new dishes that I have come to love (and thanks to the nutrition cards for each dish, I can safely do so even with my food allergy). Plus, with special events like Late Night and cooking classes, I can connect with the UMass community through food, and have a lot of fun while doing it. There is even more to the UMass dining experience than just the amazing meals. I’m so fortunate to not only be surrounded by an incredible student body and professors, but also chefs and dining commons staff that have made my day on multiple accounts. It’s going to be a long four months full of stir-fry and omelet cravings, but I can’t wait to come back to UMass and its spectacular Dining Commons in the fall.

 

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