Schneider Arena Sells Meat On Fridays of Lent

by The Cowl Editor on March 15, 2018


Hot Dogs Are Sold During Hockey Games

by Ernie Andreoli ’18

News Staff

Brianna Colletti ’21/ The Cowl

The Providence College Men’s Hockey Team defeated University of Massachusetts Lowell in style on Feb. 16. Yet the first hockey game at Schneider Arena during the Lenten season stirred up a quandary for the College’s administrators. Should the hockey rink be able to sell meat products during the Catholic religious observance? In accordance with the College’s Office of Mission and Ministry, on-campus food service vendors Raymond Dining Hall, Alumni Dining Hall, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and Eaton Street Café are prohibited from serving meat products on Fridays during Lent. However, Schneider Arena has continued to sell meat products despite this Christian observance for at least seven years.

“If the food vendor in question was internal, there would be no meat served,” noted Fr. Gabriel Pivarnik, O.P., vice president for mission and ministry. According to Pivarnik, Schneider Arena’s concession options are not meant solely for the College’s student body, faculty, and staff. Rather, Fr. Pivarnik believed that because many of the attendants at hockey games are not Catholic, and due to the fact that the College’s hockey team often faces off against teams from non-Catholic institutions, it would be unnecessary to prohibit the selling of meat. After consulting Father Brian Shanley, O.P., the Office of Mission and Ministry concluded that Schneider Arena classified as an “outside vendor” for food services.

Since Fr. Pivarnik took on his position in 2013, he affirmed that no student has complained to the Office of Mission and Ministry about meat being sold in Schnieder. While Fr. Pivarnik acknowledged that a number of students may be vexed by the fact that the on-campus food service vendors abstain from serving meat on Fridays during Lent, he believes that the practice is ingrained within the College’s pursuit. When asked why the College does not serve meat to Catholics, and non-Catholics, whom do not desire to follow the act, Fr. Pivarnik declared “it is the principle.” For Fr. Pivarnik, when the College’s community refrains from eating meat on the designated days, it symbolizes a sense of solidarity with one another—especially the less fortunate. “For those who struggle to put food on their plates, sometimes they do not even have the option to consume meat,” he added.

Forgoing meat on Fridays during Lent is not solely a Dominican ritual but a Christian one. The observance is not only practiced in the Catholic Church but also in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Lutheran, and Methodist Churches. Fr. Pivarnik explained that meat is seen as a luxury good in the Bible. Because of this, giving up meat translates into possessing a sense of solidarity with the poor. However, this component of fasting is only one-third of this mortification. Observers of Lent also adhere to additional almsgiving and prayer. By viewing the Lenten season through this lens, Fr. Pivarnik maintained that giving up meat “creates space for new practices in our lives.” Would administrators ever change their decision on allowing on-campus food vendors to serve meat to the College’s community members? Fr. Pivarnik insisted that if this declaration was ever presented to the Office of Mission and Ministry, “We would think long and hard before we changed it.”

In partnership with Providence College Dining Services, Sodexo has abided by the College’s food service guidelines during Lent. During the Lenten season, Stu Gerhardt, the general manager of the College’s Dining Services has ensured that there are a variety of options for students with different diets and allergies. “We do the best we can,” stated Gerhardt. After serving in this role for seven years, Gerhardt affirmed that those involved with the College’s Dining Services consistently strive for excellence. In regards to the question of whether the College’s administrators will ever decide to offer meat options during Lent for Catholics and non-Catholics, Gerhardt noted, “It is about the tradition, but students have a voice.”

Gerhardt insisted that if any student has a concern with the meal options offered at the on-campus food vendors during or outside of Lent, he or she should not hesitate to give feedback to the College’s Dining Services. Students are encouraged to visit the “Sodexo My Way” website, click on the menu on the upper dashboard of the site and send in their comments. The feedback goes directly to Gerhardt. Because he believes that “there needs to be a benefit for being on a meal plan,” Gerhardt hopes that more students will send in their comments or concerns via the above website. “Stu is very creative in offering the College’s community food options,” noted Fr. Pivarnik.