To acquire wisdom, one must observe

The time for making excuses is over

We were willing to give Harvest Table the benefit of the doubt at first. It is only natural that when you are adjusting to a new work environment you hit a couple of bumps along the way. There was undoubtedly a slow start to the semester, but it was all errors that could be easily remedied with time, like adjusting food proportions to meet the student population, fixing issues with the Starship app ordering system and advertising what foods are gluten-free and allergen-free. For the most part, these issues were resolved, though there are still hiccups every now and then. Unfortunately, things started going astray again, this time with issues that are more concerning than food distribution. Harvest Table recently fired their only Black catering worker for reasons still not entirely known to the community members. News of the incident spread around social media platforms and because of this firing, the Brandeis Leftist Union (BLU) launched a petition to get the worker, Kevintz, reinstated. According to BLU’s Instagram page, when students were going to hand the petition to Harvest Table executive Clayton Hargrove, Hargrove escalated the situation by calling the police on said students. The BLU wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday that “upon seeing students, Clayton ran away.” After telling students to leave, they “promptly left,” according to the BLU, yet Hargrove called the police on students anyways. With the state of police involvement and police militarization in the U.S., calling the police on a group of students that included students of color, is clearly harmful and anxiety-inducing for students on the scene. This action is particularly concerning as it shows that Harvest Table leadership is unaware of the severity and escalation that police involvement can create for students of color, culminating with the fact that the team fired their only Black culinary worker for as-yet unspecified reasons. It’s also concerning when there are members of Harvest Table’s administration leaving the company after being at Brandeis for less than a month. Jessie Curran, Harvest Table’s dietitian, resigned in early September. Curran had worked with concerned parents and community members in increasing the availability of gluten-free and allergen-free foods, even going so far as to go to the supermarket to purchase gluten-free foods for students to restock the fridge. Curran’s resignation, as with the termination of Kevintz, raises questions. With this criticism though, it’s important to note that there is a lot of good that has come with switching dining vendors to Harvest Table. The food in dining locations is more flavor-diverse, there are many more options for students with dietary restrictions and overall the quality and flavor of the food on campus has increased. What must be the focus of our, and the student body’s, criticism is the management and leadership of Harvest Table. The staff who work directly with students are kind and the people who create the menus and make the food are knowledgable, but the leadership is failing to follow Brandeis’ expectations of social justice and is meeting understandable backlash with unnecessary police involvement. If Harvest Table really wants to turn their Brandeis experience around, they must be more receptive to Brandeis’ culture and student needs. What Brandeis students have demonstrated through their support of Kevintz and other dining workers is that many students’ worries consist of what is best for the dining staff.

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