New cafeteria on everybody's lips

Aside from the comings and goings of venue fasciae and some updated vending machines, Santa Monica College's cafeteria has remained largely unchanged for the past twenty years. But during the summer, it underwent a complete renovation.

New eateries, television screens, cash stations and hardwood floors are just some of the recent additions. But the complete cosmetic makeover notwithstanding, the new cafeteria was designed with sustainability in mind.

Eat St., a new choice for students, only uses fruit and vegetables from the local farmers market, all their plates and silverware are approved as eco-friendly, and they also participate in the school compost program.

"The process is entirely different," said Victor Cardet, the operations director for Eat St. "The cafeteria before used completely processed and frozen food. We, on the other hand, make our food from raw ingredients which gives us total control of what you eat."

Cardet explained that they had a green consultant for their previous restaurants so they knew exactly "what to go for" with the one intended for the college.

Another new vender, Homeboy Bakery, is a local charitable company that helps at-risk, disadvantaged, and formerly gang-involved youths by finding them employment through a local network.

However, student opinion regarding the recent changes to the college cafeteria seems to differ.

According to some, the summer-long project has come off as more of a $ 440,000 face-lift than a much needed renovation. "It looks new but it's the same thing," said Bryan Zavala, 20, who believes that not much has changed save the prices, which have raised slightly. "The food is all right, but it's not the best. It makes me want to bring my own food," Zavala added.

Zavala also points out that the money used for the renovation could have been allocated towards relieving the overcrowded SMC classes, saying, "I wish they would've spent the money on classes."

"Why so many screens?" asked Eunbee Lee, 21, commenting on the brand new flat screen televisions scattered around the walls. "Instead of buying TVs, there could be more variety," she added, indicating the lack of options in terms of food. She also said that the price increases resulting from the renovation deterred her from buying anything at the cafeteria this semester.

But in other corners, initial feedback was also positive. "I love it. Good quality food, more healthy options, and chicken curry wrap with grapes and apples. Just a lot nicer," said Michael Nader, a sophomore, who appreciated the more health conscious selections now available.

Clint Stevens, a sophomore, was also satisfied with the changes made. "It's better. I love the whole make over. It's very well put together," Stevens said.

Ultimately, it seems that the student consensus is split down the middle.