Food on campus is a heavy topic–Campus Dining is a monopolized institution that seems to charge absurd prices for the food that students have access to, and the annually increasing price of meal plans still seems to find a way to short students of actual meal points. Couple this with the official complaints page on Facebook where students air their grievances regarding rude employees and tell tales of nails in their sandwiches and you have created a pretty hostile and critical outlook on campus food.
To counteract the numerous accounts of complaints, SBU Eats released a list of “Key Areas of Improvement for Dining Services” for the upcoming academic year. The list encompasses eight new changes, affecting everyone from undergraduate residents to those living in the West Apartments.
Quite possibly the most significant change–and the one that has the entire campus buzzing–is the new rollover meal plan. Those extra meal points that the small population of lucky students seem to accumulate at the end of December can now be used all throughout the spring semester. Meal plans still have to be purchased for the spring semester though, and everything expires at the end of May.
While we are still waiting on that yearly rollover, this decision is clearly a step forward in the right direction. It addresses an issue that students have complained about over the past few years, and many only wish that it had come sooner.
It is nice to see that Campus Dining is also doing something to ease the wait time and long lines at the cafeterias on campus. The SAC is notorious for getting packed as soon as major classes get out. The new self-serve kiosks sound like a great idea, and my only hope is that the technical functions do not go awry in the midst of the lunch time rush.
Adding a mobile app, in my opinion, is a nice, modern day touch to how campus dining has worked. The app will not only make orders go by a bit quicker, but also push people to go to different dining options. Living in Roth, I do not usually make my way down to West Side Dining because it is out of my way and ordering food would take longer than I usually have to spend on dinner, but ordering my food before I leave? That might be enough to convince me to take the trip down the road.
And as tuition keeps going up, it is also pleasant to see that the prices of meal plans are not changing this academic year from what they were in 2013-2014. Of course, the biggest issue we still seem to face at the school is the price of the food itself. We may be left with the same amount of money as last year, but it seems that the food on campus seems to be getting more expensive every year. For example, Koso bowls at Jasmine have noticeably decreased in size, but the price has not reflected the smaller amounts of food that students are getting.
Eating healthy meals on campus is also an expensive affair—why spend four dollars on a bag of almonds when for the same price, I could easily purchase a bag of chips, some candy and a soda?
Don’t get me wrong, the changes that are being implemented this year are a step forward in the right direction. As busy students, we want faster service that gets us in and out of dining halls so we can focus on everything else that we’re doing. We want rollover meal plans so that we are not forced to buy three cases of overpriced Gatorade at the end of the semester just because we kind of have to. But the changes we are still expecting are with the quality and quantity of the food being offered. I should not be paying a dollar for a banana when it costs just twenty cents at the local grocery store. Let’s hope that these improvements are just the first of many more to come in the near future.