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Back to School Foodways Series, Virginia State

Lamenta Crouch recalls, there was a lot of “starchy foods including potatoes served with just about every meal and lots of pasta,” in the Virginia State cafeteria in the late 1960s
At Virginia State (Virginia State University Today (VSU)) students ate what they called “wonder meat” because “we wondered what it was,” says Lamenta Diane Watkins Crouch, a 1970 Virginia state graduate. Her older sister Francis Ann Watkins Neely graduated from Virginia Union in 1967. “I really did not like the lamb chops,” that they served in the cafeteria. “My husband went to Howard University and he told me that the meat that they served in the student cafeteria there he believed [were poor quality cuts that] came from the Federal government.” In general “we southerners just did not like the lunch and dinner menus in the college cafeteria,” says Watkins Neely. The food at Virginia State, according to her younger sister Lamenta Watkins Crouch, “was not seasoned the same as home,” and there was a lot of “starchy foods including potatoes served with just about every meal and lots of pasta.” “My mother was a really good cook and that what I grew up on” says Watkins Neelly. “We southern students were always receiving care packages from home filled with good food. So we always knew somebody on campus who had just received a care packages so we would go and eat that instead of the cafeteria food.” In contrast she said that the northern students who had fewer options seemed to say very little about the cafeteria food at Union than the southerners. 

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