Food poisoning at Jupiter’s Dining Hall causes outcry

As students get sick from mystery meals, they turned to Student Government and Instagram to advocate for change.


Mystery meat at Jupiter’s dining hall. Photo courtesy of the Jupiter Student Government Dining Hall Committee Instagram.

Israel Fontoura, Student Government Editor

What came first, the chicken or the food poisoning?


There have been three separate complaints made at the health inspectors department after students at Jupiter’s Honors College reported foodborne illnesses from eating in the dining hall since February. 


All fingers pointed to poor food quality, sanitary conditions, and lack of allergen warnings.


While the number of sick students continued to rise, one of the most popular items––grilled chicken––was taken off the menu. Although the dining hall never confirmed, it is likely due to a rising number of complaints of undercooked chicken.


“Students are being given raw food that frankly is of poor quality resulting in many students frequently getting sick,” said Jupiter campus senator and former Jupiter Speaker of the House, Reece Humphreys.


Jupiter students considered grilled chicken one of the healthier options, so they were startled by its absence. And a week without it was too much for some. 


As a result, student government leaders organized a dining hall committee to voice their concerns and communicate with staff.


Meanwhile, other students turned to an online platform.


An anonymous Instagram vigilante, @dh_needs_grilled_chicken, began posting memes as a way to grab the attention of student government, calling themselves a “voice for the voiceless.”


The day the chicken was pulled from the dining hall, the staff assured the committee that it would return the following week. The same day that the Instagram account was created. 


It was during this waiting period that the account became active, arguing online with student government leaders and the committee, calling the return of their chicken as another “empty SG promise.”


But other than advocating for chicken, @dh_needs_grilled_chicken wants to keep Student Government held accountably.


“We will make it our mission to voice the concerns of Jupiter students and resolves these issues even when SG ignores,” the account said.


To document these incidents, the dining hall committee collected feedback from students who sent in images of the food through their Instagram––@sgmacdhc. 


Students also added comments, noting that the food was too oily, undercooked, or just a mystery altogether. 


“To them and to us, the pictures spoke more than words could,” Aviles said.


Last Spring, Humphreys had the idea for a dining hall committee but the bill was lost when it was sent to Boca Raton for additional signing. 


Humphreys advised that the Jupiter House restart the five-member committee, headed by Aviles, a year later. The committee is also comprised of a Jupiter House representative, two members from the Macarthur Resident Student Association, and a student volunteer.


At the Honors College, non-transfer students are required to live in the dorms for at least two years. Even so, freshmen are required to have a 19-meal per week plan, which is about $1,932 per semester.


Without residence hall kitchens, the other options students have is eating off campus, which can be expensive.


“Students have complained about the dining hall food for a long time, but they almost never bring their complaints to the staff that could bring about change,” said Ari Aviles, committee member and Jupiter House Speaker Pro Tempore.


“When [we conduct] SG surveys asking for suggestions for on-campus improvement, the dining hall is usually the main thing our constituents talk about,” said Aviles.


While the committee surveys the dining hall weekly, another group of members visits the dining hall manager to share their findings and ideas.


“I believe the members are doing some truly great work and are effectively able to take the concerns of the students on our campus and work with the dining hall staff on solutions,” said Humphreys.The health department conducted an inspection on February 22 and did not take any further action following their investigation. No incidents have been reported since.


Israel Fontoura is a student government editor with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, follow @israelofontoura on Twitter or email [email protected].