Petition of Students About Food at Steward’s Signed by Members of All Four Classes
Petition of Students About Food at Steward’s Signed by Members of All Four Classes is, as the title might suggest, a petition and subsequent list of grievances written by UNC students to the faculty regarding the quality of the food in the dining hall. The students write that they believe they have lied to, as the food does not match the written menu, and portions and quality are lower than they were in the past. A recurring example they cite is the allowance of butter they are portioned. The students write that they receive less than the allotted ounce, and it varies wildly from students from student. The students also remark that the beef they are served is often tainted with parasites and therefore inedible. A second document, a list of grievances, is attached containing the problems the students wish to see changed. They ultimately demand larger portions and higher quality food.
This document is valuable to a historian studying Chapel Hill’s food story because it documents a time of hardship for the community. While the document does not outright state the economic conditions (or perhaps climatic, if a poor harvest was the cause) of the decrease in food quality, but the writing of the students implies it. The students blame the steward, or the person in charge of preparing the university’s food, when they write the poor quality of the food is, “… so frequent it is manifest it cannot proceed from nothing else but carelessness & inattention in the steward…” Perhaps this is true, but more likely than not, a change occurred in the community of Chapel Hill that caused a decrease in quantity and quality of food for students. Therefore, historians can use this document to mark the beginning of an era of hardship for Chapel Hill.
Whether true or not, this document is limited in that it takes an accusatory approach to finding the source of UNC’s food shortage. The students do not even entertain the other possible causes besides the steward’s own faults. Historians are unable to determine the cause of the problems listed by the students with just this document. A historian would need to pair this document with farm and business records in order to ascertain Chapel Hill and the surrounding area’s crop yield and economic growth. If it is found that the region produced less crops and capital than previous years, then that is a more likely cause than the steward’s own lack of caring.
 Chambers, Maxwell. “Petition of Students About Food at Steward’s Signed by Members of All Four Classes.” 1809. 2004. Accessed October 3, 2018. https://docsouth.unc.edu/unc/unc06-154/unc06-154.html.
Made by Bob Payne