UC Merced students voicing concerns over dining hall food

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- "Is it good? Is it not good? If it's not good, I am not getting it."

That's what's on junior Devin Verma's mind when he visits the dining pavilion on UC Merced's campus.

For students who live on campus, options are extremely limited because of the university's secluded location.

Which is why some UC Merced students have taken to social media to share pictures of their inedible entrees from the dining pavilion.

An Instagram account, UC Merced Pavilion Food Review, is dedicated to sharing photos of health hazards students send in.

Images show what looks like raw chicken, hair, insects, even maggots in the food that students are served, which all come at a high cost.

The meal plans start at about $2,400 per semester and run up to almost $6,000 per academic year.

Junior Chirag Patla says he has had a run-in with food that wasn't fully cooked at the dining hall, which staff addressed and replaced on the spot. But now, he remains skeptical.

"You just look like, 'Hey, is it fully cooked? Is it clean?' That's about it," he said.

Charles Nies, vice-chancellor of student affairs, says he eats at the dining hall often.

"Just somewhat surprised by the images that were there because that hasn't been my experience," he said.

Nies says the university first became aware of the complaints in December, acknowledging that improvements need to be made.

"Just making sure that we are doing more frequent spot checks on the food and the food temperatures to make sure that the food is cooked thoroughly," he said.

The school has since formed a student dining advisory group to gather feedback and created a QR code that takes students directly report food complaints or health concerns.

The dining hall does not receive inspections from the county health department like a traditional restaurant. Instead, Neis says an inspector employed by UC Merced conducts weekly health checks.

UC Merced administration is encouraging all students to bring any health or safety concerns to staff immediately after they discover them and to report them to the campus health and safety department.

You can contact Nies at Cnies@ucmerced.edu. You can also contact dining@ucmerced.edu.
Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.