by Matthew Mazzella ’20
On Sunday, March 25, a student at Providence College’s Raymond Dining Hall found a cockroach in their serving of fried ravioli, and the picture of this finding went viral around campus. Since then, there have been multiple other sightings of insects in and around students’ food at Ray.
Student outrage concerning the quality of their food has sparked the Instagram page “Sodex-no,” which encourages students to send in pictures of their unsanitary findings to draw attention to the problem occurring in Ray. Stu Gerhardt, general manager of dining services at PC, was asked what happened regarding the roach situation. His response to the cockroach findings was “prior to the circulation of the photo, Reliable Pest Control came in twice a week to perform routine pest control prevention. Since the dead roach in the ravioli was found right before Easter break, Reliable came in on Good Friday, ‘bombed’ the dining facility with pesticides, and cleaned the dining hall the following Monday. One or two German cockroaches were found, but no infestation was found, which leads us to believe it is an external problem.”
Since the source of the problem is still being determined, Gerhardt and Warren Gray, assistant vice president of business services, believe that the roaches are being transported in the cardboard box shipments to the dining hall, as they are attracted to wet cardboard and can get in the bottom of boxes very easily. Gerhardt has issued a protocol for all Raymond workers to unload all shipments outside the hall so no insects make their way into the building from the boxes.
In regards to the insect found in a student’s french fry, Gerhardt said, “Any time there is food found with a foreign matter in it, we will send that piece of food back to the vendor or manufacturer because it is crucial to find out how it got there.” For example, the fry was sent back to McCain Potatoes to be inspected because if an insect was embedded in the fry, it could have not happened here.”
Gray also mentioned that after the ravioli photo was circulated, the Rhode Island Department of Health was notified and an inspection of Raymond Dining Hall was issued, and a clean bill of health was issued. “We have decided after both instances that the pest control services come every day to ensure the problem is fixed,” he said.
While the problem seems to be taken care of, students at Providence College are still upset, and hope to never see something like this occur again while eating at campus dining facilities. Gabrielle Montoya ’20 said, “I think what happened was gross. Students eat at Ray every day, and sanitation needs to be taken more seriously when so many kids are being fed each day. If this keeps happening, someone could get really sick.”
Marie Sweeney ’20 said, “My friends and I have been avoiding Ray once we learned about the bug problem. It’s just pretty unappetizing. Students shouldn’t have to fear that something is in their food, and they also shouldn’t feel the need to spend their money off campus or use their Friar Bucks on other food because their meal plan provides them with insect infested foods.”
The Dining Services team at the College have implemented new changes in protocol, but the sightings of roaches by students has not ended as hoped. A video of a cockroach running on a table in Ray has circulated around the internet, and is only raising more questions from students and parents as if the problem is really fixed. Since the last video of the cockroach, there has been no further sightings of any cockroaches.
Student liasons to Sodexo, Daniel Keating ’20 and John Stablien ’19, have met multiple times with Gerhardt to address studnet concerns. Keating reported to the Student Congress on Tuesday that the Board of Health did inspect Raymond Cafeteria last week, and declared that there is no infestion, and therefore the hypothesis that the cockroaches came from outside the cafeteria is likley.