John Jay Dining Hall has served beans every single day, without fail, since early 2015. The Federalist launched a special investigative report to uncover the motives behind this unfailing bean production. What we discovered is corruption that reaches the very bowels of the campus dining administration.
Ralph Portero, Director of John Jay Dining Hall, is in the pocket of Big Bean.
Big Bean, also known as the “Big Three”, is the lobbying arm of the world’s three largest bean companies: Bush’s, Goya’s, and Old El Paso. In exchange for significant financial kickbacks, Portero has placed a bean dish on John Jay’s menu for 492 consecutive dining days.
When The Fed first questioned Portero about the frequency of bean service at John Jay, the Director merely spouted talking points. “We serve beans every day because Columbia students enjoy eating them. After a long day of classes, there’s nothing quite like a hearty pinto or black bean.”
Unconvinced, The Fed placed a hidden camera in Portero’s office. Later that week, the camera captured damning footage.
In the clip, Jim Ethier, current CEO of Bush’s, is sitting directly across from Portero. It’s clear that the two men have just concluded a serious negotiation. From his briefcase, Ethier retrieves a can opener and two spoons. He deftly unseals two cans of Bush’s Original Baked Beans. The men then toast each other before heartily slurping up their bean slop.
After the footage leaked, Portero continued to deny that the meeting even took place. Ethier, however, was much more willing to spill the beans. “Yes, I did meet with Ralph, and we did discuss an overall branding deal for the next five years. That’s standard practice in the campus dining industry. If we can hook students when they’re young, we can create bean fiends for life.”
However, Ethier’s affable demeanor faded as soon as he was confronted with arguments from campus nutrition activists: prolonged bean usage cause severe digestive issues; bean consumption disproportionately affects the poor and minorities; and, most frighteningly of all, beans aren’t even that good.
“Look sweetheart, this is just how the world works,” said Ethier, cracking under pressure, “You think Columbia would have been voted the ‘Best College For Food’ without the help of Big Bean Money? This university is full of beans, and I own all of them.”
Faced with mounting pressure from higher-ups, Portero sent a campus-wide announcement just before The Fed was set to publish the exposé:
“I want to be forthright. Yes, as Dining Director of John Jay, I made a deal with Big Bean, just like Ferris signed exclusivity agreements with Inedible Broccoli and Lukewarm Yogurt. But, I made this decision with the students’ best interests at heart. I never intended to hurt anyone, and I am deeply sorry for all the sorrow and gastrointestinal pain I might have caused.”
Portero then promised to reflect on his actions, and “introduce more transparency to future dining deals”. Unfortunately, most anti-bean activists think he’s full of hot air.