The dish on Lancer

Lizzie Duke, Suzanne Buchholz and CJ RobinsonReporters

Lancer Hospitality has been supplying food on campus for students and employees for the past five years and recently launched its new line of food.

The company’s rebranding of many of its burgers and grill menu items with the “Aldo’s” name is raising health concerns.

Many of the menu items have nutritional information that’s higher than those set by the Food and Drug Administration.

For example, Aldo’s Bacon Cheeseburger contains 72 grams of total fat, which is 111 percent of the recommended daily consumption, and 24.4 grams of saturated fat, which is 122 percent of the recommended daily consumption. The burger has 919.5 calories. Its Flatbread Gourmet Chicken Ranch has 69.6 grams of total fat, which is 107 percent of the recommended daily consumption, 28.5 grams of saturated fat, which is 143 percent of the recommended daily consumption and 996 calories.

Compared to local food chains, the college’s burger has 8 more grams of fat than its counterpart at Red Robin. McDonald’s Bacon Clubhouse burger has 30 less grams of fat than the bacon cheeseburger supplied by Lancer.  That’s almost 50 percent more than McDonald’s.

Lancer sells other options including cups of vegetables, fruit and yogurt.

Some students say that it’s a choice as to whether or not they eat these foods.

“I’m not concerned,” student Curtis English said. “They sell salads, there’s tomatoes on the burgers, I think that’s enough.”

Others have problems with the nutritional facts.

“It makes everyone a lot less healthy,” student Ashley Felice said. “What they should be serving is healthy food if we’re stuck here and need to eat.”

Biology Instructor Joseph Cates-Carney said a healthy meal is one that provides the macronutrients needed to sustain a body for a given amount of time. Macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, fats and water.

“You wouldn’t look at it one meal at a time,” Carney said. “You’d look at it over the course of a day or longer, because it varies. Maybe you had more carbohydrates for breakfast, more fats for lunch.”

The nutrition facts for an Aldo’s Cheeseburger 1/4 pound bacon, from Lancer, were shown to Carney.

“The challenge is when we use that word healthy, we can spin it all sorts of ways,” Carney said. “I could say if I had four of those cheeseburgers I’d have 100  percent of my iron. (But) that’s a lot of fat, there’s no question.”

Carney said that Lancer sells food that people buy as they’re a business and strive to meet the needs of their customers. In other words, as soon as the people quit buying it, they’re going to quit selling it.

As for the effects on a student’s body after eating this meal daily, Carney said it can be compared to Supersize Me, a movie about a man who only eats McDonald’s for a year. Consequences can include liver damage, weight gain, lethargy and a decrease in overall health.

“The question I would ask the individual is, ‘so why are you doing this?’” Carney said. “We can demonstrate it isn’t healthy, so why is this a choice you’re making?”

The nutritional facts themselves may be difficult to find.

When looking of the Pierce College website under Food Services, the user is given two links – one to a website called create-a-balance.com and the other Lancer Catering’s Pierce website, pierce.lancerhospitality.com. These two websites give various menu items different nutritional information, so students are left to choose which website they consider correct.

Lancer Catering’s regional director, Susan Smith, declined to comment on multiple attempts at interviews and is the only source for information in the company.

Additionally, ingredient information wasn’t available for some menu items, including the Aldo’s Bacon Cheese Burger.

“I should be able to know what to put in my body,” student Athena Fey said. “I should be able to (know) whether or not I’m eating shitty genetically modified food.”

Lancer was originally chosen to provide food services to Pierce in 2011 by the previous request for proposal committee, Procurement Officer Curtis Lee said. An RFP is a solicitation in which institutions seek out potential suppliers for specific services, in this case for a food service to provide for Pierce’s cafeteria on both campuses.

Potential services interested in supplying for Pierce are required to fill out a detailed form indicating their plans for prices, portion sizes and type of foods they’d be selling, as well as promising to adhere to certain requirements involving sanitation, food quality and equipment maintenance. The committee then begins a process of interviewing bidders, visiting current establishments where they provide their services and performing a taste test of the food. The committee uses this information to decide which bidder would best fit the needs of Pierce College.

The 2011 committee picked Lancer as it best matched the criteria of its evaluation.

“I believe five vendors provided bids in that RFP process and the committee selected Lancer on a whole range of issues including a food tasting,” Lee said.

According to the RFP bidder form, the food that a service provides must meet certain standards in terms of quality and nutrition content. Fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products must be high grade and foods containing trans fat needs to be limited, if not avoided completely. Additionally, all fresh and packaged products must be labeled for identification purposes.

Lee said there have been few complaints during Lancer’s time servicing Pierce.

“There haven’t been many questions or concerns expressed that I’ve been told about,” Lee said. “I’ve checked with both the managers numerous time over the last five years in regards to feedback and questions.”

Lee said students who are concerned about health content of the food can submit a comment card to Lancer voicing these concerns or ask to speak to a manager. They can also send their comments to Lee at CLee@pierce.ctc.edu or submit them through the Office of Student Life on either campus.

The decision will be made before the next quarter starts.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

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The dish on Lancer

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