BY EMMA RUBIN ’20
Recently, Mount Holyoke students found an unfamiliar-looking guacamole package available in Blanchard Cafe. Unlike the previous unbranded container, the popular dip now comes in a pre-packaged container, labeled with the brand, “Casa Solana.”
The old guacamole, which came in clear, recyclable plastic containers with matching lids, used to be portioned out individually by the Dining Services workers. But they faced continual problems with the oxidation of the avocado-based dip due to the fact that the container was not sealed. Peter Haas, unit manager of Blanchard and executive chef for Dining Services, said that the oxidation created food waste, since the brown discoloration from this process made the product unappealing to students.
The new variety now available does not oxidize as quickly because of how the container is sealed. “With the cost per ounce the same as portioning it ourselves we felt it was a better product allowing us to waste less,” Haas said.
Blanchard first began using Casa Solana guacamole last year, according to Haas. However, the supply of the stock has been inconsistent, causing dining services to occasionally return to the original method of supply. Dining Servicesis officiallyplanning on using the new guacamolefor the rest of the semester.
Amelia Benich ’20 expressed dissatisfaction with guacamole available throughout Mount Holyoke dining halls. She complained about the lack of seasoning and thought it was more similar to simply mashed avocado. “All our guacamole is fraudulent and disappointing,” she said. Benich expressed hope that centralized dining would offer students “a true guacamole.”
As Blanchard Community Center, also known as “Superblanch,” opens in the spring there will be far less need for pre-packaged goods, including the branded guacamole.
“We will have the accompaniments needed within that station to compliment the items on the menu,” Haas said.
Students who frequently visit Blanchard may have noticed that the guacamole change is part of a larger trend. Many other Blanchard staples have also been appearing in more pre-packaged containers in the past several years, including sour cream and marinara sauce.
The package of sour cream has been in use for a while now, Haas said. However, like the guacamole, low supplies of the branded version occasionally require dining staff to portion sour cream using their own available containers.
The marinara sauce is more consistently available in a pre-packaged container. “Last year when the first phase of the construction started for the community center we lost about half of our refrigeration space,” Haas said, “We had to get creative with the space that we had available to us.” He noted that the Heinz marinara sauce does not need to be refrigerated until it is opened, facilitating mass storage and ensuring a more consistent supply.
Haas said that the availability of pre-packaged items which previously were individually portioned is unrelated to any contracts that dining services has with companies.