Opinion: Students must be able to take food out of the residence cafeteria

A cafe worker wearing a black mask and gloves and cooking
The café is located at Carleton University [Photo by Anya Swettenham/Charlatan Newspaper]

Residence students who pay for meal plans offered by The Caf should be allowed to bring food.

The café is proud of its three-star SPE certification, which delivers nutritious meals to students and a certified zero-waste cafeteria.

While The Caf boasts healthy food, eco-friendly practices and service with a smile, students’ ability to take their leftovers with them is the last piece of the puzzle needed to fully support students.

Meal plans are expensive and students need to have access to the food they pay for around the clock. Restricting students’ access to food on one campus hinders success for those with packed schedules that coincide with traditional mealtimes, medical conditions that require reliable access to food (such as diabetes), and students who do not feel safe eating in cafeteria due to COVID-19 concerns.

With tuition fees that are thousands of dollars more expensive than fees for the same services at other universities, students who chose to stay on campus at Carleton and pay up to $ 10,000 for their housing and food should be able to take meals with them.

Housing does not disclose the revenue it generates from meal plans, nor did the department respond to requests for this information. But with money from about 3,000 students living in residences, students should be able to bring more than a single piece of fruit with them.

While meal plans are all-you-can-eat, mealtimes are from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Students with busy schedules who have several hours during the day are often left with little or no food to eat when entering the Café. Buffets, sandwiches and pasta bars start closing around noon. 21.00

In addition, students who need reliable access to food to maintain their health are severely restricted as their access is complicated. Students with medical conditions such as diabetes or hypoglycemia are at risk of not having readily available snacks for their blood sugar levels. Similarly, students with Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome can trigger symptoms if they eat large amounts at once.

Similarly, students with eating disorders may have difficulty eating in large crowded areas or feel overwhelmed. Not having the flexibility to take meals to go or feeling pressured to overeat when students have time to spend at The Caf defeats the purpose of mindful eating, which Carleton has previously advocated.

Finally, although The Caf has introduced COVID-19 security protocols, it does not seem to trust college students to adhere to the COVID-19 security protocols honor system. It’s all hygiene theater.

The café is located at Carleton University [Photo by Anya Swettenham/Charlatan Newspaper]

How can a student who is worried about eating in a cafeteria with hundreds of other college students who may not adhere to COVID-19 protocols in their personal lives be comfortable eating in a room where students do not even follow physically distance?

An easy solution would be to give students the opportunity to take their Tupperware to The Caf. The cafeteria staff has previously prevented students from doing this, citing concerns about the responsibility of students who eat expired food and plan the amount of food that the cafe has to prepare.

While this argument sounds logical, it fails when someone considers The Cafs meal plan or takeaway system in the box during lockdowns in 2020. A student can still get food poisoning in both ways, either by smuggling food out into a Tupperware container or from The Caf’s box meals to go.

The framed meal plan may seem beneficial to students with complicated schedules, but requiring orders to be placed 48 hours in advance requires foresight that students may not have given their changing schedules.

Not only this, but options for meals in boxes are limited. Eating the same sandwich and granola bar every day delivered in the box for lunch cannot be compared to the countless options available at The Caf.

Going forward, The Caf may allow students to grab sandwiches from the sandwich-style subway-style bar as they are already served on a piece of baking paper, or allow students to grab a slice of pizza when they are busy. The two meals are rootless and easy for The Caf to serve on the go.

Home meals are expensive, and The Caf does not meet the growing demand for alternative to-go meals to suit students’ busy schedules and health needs.

It’s now time for The Caf to modernize its past policies and deliver the final piece of the puzzle to fully support students.


Featured image of Anya Swettenham.

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