Lack of variety in dining halls cause frustrations for students

By Angelle Cortes

Due to COVID-19, dining halls around University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have had to make adjustments to maintain precaution. While there’s limited inside dining options and carry out and express meals, one adjustment University Housing made affected students the most: the food.

Before the pandemic, there were six dining halls on campus that offered a variety of food. So if you didn’t like what was being served at your dining hall then you could have just gone to a different dining hall to have a meal. 

With COVID-19 affecting how dining halls function, the remaining four dining halls have switched to serving the same meals as each other at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

What’s lacking this year with the food is the variety. For sophomore in engineering Josh Sekyere, he said that the dining halls offer a “Build your own pasta bowl” every night for dinner. 

“My experience with the dining hall hasn’t been the best in my opinion,” said Sekyere. “I think dinner is like the biggest, in my opinion downgrade, because there’s not that many options as last year, there’s just mostly pasta.” 

With only a month in a half into the school year, Illinois Street Residence Hall Shift Supervisor Bennett Smith said that students are tired of the food.

“People are getting tired of the same food at every dining hall because that’s the way it’s actually working right now,” said Smith. “Every single dining hall has the same food everyday.” 

The issue with the dining hall has become the center of discussion on the popular social media Reddit. Students like Sekyere have taken their jokes and memes to the UIUC subreddit to express frustrations, but also make students laugh.

Photo courtesy of Josh Sekyere

The quality of food has even reached a point that there has been a petition calling for University Housing to improve the dining hall situation.

While students just don’t only have meal swipes as part of their meal plan, they also have something called Café Credits. Depending on your meal plan you either get $15 or $45 worth of credits. You can choose to use these every week or not, however they don’t disappear, only rollover, until you double the amount of Cafe Credits you have. 

These credits can be used at five different dining retail locations on campus. The retail stores are more of a convenience store as well as a grocery store. So if you’re in a rush, then you can just pick up a bag of chips and a burger and be on your way. 

Even then using credits over your meal swipes for chicken wings and burgers can be just as tiring as eating pasta for dinner. With apps like UberEats and Postmates a click away, Sekyere has turned to getting food delivered or going out to Green Street for food. 

“In the beginning, I was using more of the meal credits just because it was more convenient and I was getting used to the food and not tired of it,” said Sekyere. “Now I’ve been spending more of my credits and eating out more.” 

University Housing is still charging full price for room and board, despite the big changes to the dining halls. 

“If we’re paying that much for housing and all that at least there should be more options,” said Sekyere. “The food is alright, it’s manageable. Just the lack of options of having to eat the same thing every day is not really fun.”