Students who frequently dine at Northwest Dining Hall at the University of Connecticut say that the lack of salt and pepper shakers on the tables can be inconvenient.
“Anytime someone takes a (shaker) from the tray, they never take it back,” sixth-semester computer engineering major Charlie Yang said. “Even people who are sitting right next to the tray take the bottle.”
Deanna Roscicke, a fourth-semester pathobiology and animal science double major, said she has observed the same problem.
“Even though they (the salt and pepper shakers) are up there, they’re not there because people bring them to the table,” Roscicke said.
Kylie Baker, a fourth-semester pathobiology and animal science major, said the placement of the shakers could be a hassle if many students wanted to use them simultaneously.
“I guess it’d be inconvenient if a lot of people were trying to use it all at once,” Baker said.
Baker said that she does not use the salt shakers often, though.
“I mean I don’t dump salt on my food,” Baker said. “It’s already over-salted as it is.”
Yang said that he understands why it is more practical to have condiments in a communal location.
“Putting every condiment on every table would be absurd,” Yang said.
Assistant Director of Residential Dining Michael White said that there is no specific rule governing where each dining unit places their salt and pepper shakers.
“A majority of facilities still have them on the tables,” White said.
John Kuhl, the area manager for Northwest Dining Hall, said that he moved the location of the salt and pepper shakers about three years ago, when Northwest and Putnam moved the napkins to communal dispensers rather than having baskets on every single table.
“One (reason for moving the shakers) was the theft of the salt and pepper shakers, how many we were going through and constantly replacing,” Kuhl said.
White said that he has even seen kinds of “sabotage” involving the shakers, including an instance in Buckley Dining Hall where a student placed a napkin inside of a pepper shaker and then filled the top with salt.
White said that it requires a good deal of work to continually refill salt and pepper shakers on every table in a dining unit.
“It’s a lot of labor when you have to go to every single table to refill them,” White said.
Kuhl said that he believes Northwest’s method of providing salt and pepper for students makes them more conscious of their seasoning habits.
“It actually makes the students more conscious to add salt and pepper to their food,” Kuhl said. “When it’s sitting right there, I think sometimes it’s a force of habit to just add it.”
Last week, Northwest hosted a special dinner that helped educate students about sodium intake as part of the Menus of Change Initiative.
The salt shakers were removed from their normal location and placed on a table manned by a nutritional science master’s student who provided students with information about sodium consumption.
“He wasn’t denying them; if they wanted the salt they could add it,” Kuhl said.
White said that while the initiative of reducing sodium in student’s diet is important, he is not sure how much of an impact the single-night event had on their habits.
“I don’t know how much of an impact it had on students that night,” White said. “If we asked ourselves, ‘Are there five more students who are more aware?’ I don’t know.”
Kuhl said that he believes Dining Services has a duty to educate students about nutrition just as the academic aspects of the university do.
“You’re here for an education. As a department, we want to educate you when we can,” Kuhl said. “We are just constantly trying to change and educate students as part of our job.”