After a year of mostly take-out, Dining Services has mostly returned to pre-COVID-19 services for the fall 2021 semester. Tables and chairs have been returned to dining locations; cups, plates, bowls, and silverware have come back (with some exceptions), and self-service is back at certain stations.
Dining Services has currently had to change its service hours and operation of locations due to mass staff shortages. Some of these changes include closing the brand new location Roots & Shoots in Goergen Hall and the Faculty Club in Douglass Hall until further notice, and a new closing time of the Pit at 10 p.m., with Sol Bol and Pizza Pi closing earlier at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. respectively.
Junior Riya Sharma thought that while the food has not changed as much, the dining halls have become very crowded. “[Dining Services] is all really good,” Sharma described. “I sometimes feel like the dining halls are too crowded, but they are low on staff.”
Junior Avery Young found dining locations to be overly crowded as well. They also wished for more variety at certain locations. “Extremely overcrowded, I’m not really a fan that the Pit will be closing early soon,” Young said. “There’s no variety at [Danforth]; it’s the same things every day.”
Sharma did wish that the accuracy of the ingredients would improve, due to concerns over dietary restrictions. “One of the problems that most people have with dining services is that there are some ingredients that are listed that don’t happen to be there,” Sharma said. “For example, they will say [online] that a dish does not have pork but instead chicken, but [in the meal] there is pork, which tends to be troublesome for some people.”
Students also had concerns about the early closure of the Pit. “The Pit closing early is really a shame, because after 8 p.m., it’s the only place to eat on campus,” junior Ryan Odell commented.
Sophomore Haley Tyburski’s class conflicts will present a challenge for dinner. “I have a class that goes until 9:40 p.m. and I don’t have a break before that, so I’m going to have to make food in the kitchen because I have no other option,” Tyburski said.
Sharma’s dietary restrictions only allow her to eat at Sol Bowl in the Pit, but due to the current operational hours, she has not been able to access it. “Sol Bol, which is the only possible thing that I can eat in the Pit, has been closed now,” Sharma commented.
Young observed a decrease in options for vegan or vegetarian students. “Another thing is there were barely any vegetarian and vegan options last semester, and now there are almost none,” Young said.
Dining Services cited staff shortages as the reasoning for the change in operational hours, but students were supportive and appreciative of Dining Services staff. In all of the interviews conducted for this article, students highlighted how nice and amazing Dining staff members are.
“People leave because they don’t feel valued, or they’re not getting what they deserve working, and doing what they are doing, they are not getting enough,” Young said. “They are not treated with enough respect.”