‘I’ve skipped quite a few meals’: Students are passing on dinner over restricted dining hall hours

Neelam Bohra

Shorter dining hall hours in the northern portion of campus have caused some students to skip dinner.

Littlefield Patio Cafe and Kinsolving Dining provide dinner for students in the northern part of campus, and they close at 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday. Students who cannot mold their schedule to these hours said they do not have time to travel across campus to open dining halls or afford to spend money to eat out, so they resort to eating snacks or not eating at all. 

“I’ve skipped quite a few meals,” said Barbara Barman, a business honors freshman living in Blanton Hall. “I don’t have time to go across campus, and I don’t want to go out and spend money, so I just won’t eat. It messes with my whole schedule.”

Hannah Jordan, an international relations and Plan II freshman, also lives in Blanton and said she can’t afford to eat out because she pays her own tuition. Instead, she tried to use some of the 1,800 Dine In Dollars provided in her resident meal plan at Jester City Limits, which stays open until 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays.

“I feel like people on the north side of campus get a little less out of their meal plan,” Jordan said. “I have walked across campus to get to JCL before, but when you’re on your own at night and you’re a girl, it’s sketchy. And I don’t want to have to use SURE Walk. It’s a hassle, and it is intimidating to (use) just for dinner.”

Hannah Horton, communication sciences and disorders sophomore, lives in Kinsolving and said she plans her homework around dining hours.

“There are times when you get to a stopping point in homework, and it’s close to 8 and you’re hungry,” Horton said. “But you come down here and they’re about to close, so you don’t have time. When it gets closer to 8, they start putting things away. You don’t have all the options.”

Director of dining Rene Rodriguez said not enough students eat between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. in dining halls on the north side of campus to consider later hours. He said this is partly because of the lower density of students with meal plans in North Campus.

“It takes a lot of labor hours to operate a location,” Rodriguez said. “We try to be good stewards of the students’ money and not raise prices in order to stay open more hours. We have to balance everything in regards to good business practices.”

Rodriguez said busier students should use the Eco2Go boxes, a system allowing students to pay for a to-go box of food. Barman said this practice can be difficult. 

“I try to ration it out,” Barman said. “I can get something earlier in the day and save half for dinner, and I’m getting smarter about it. It’s just, sometimes, you can’t get to the places you need to, and food should be something that’s easily accessible for kids. The hours should be more flexible.”

Rodriguez said he hosts a food committee meeting through University Housing and Dining the second Tuesday of every month, and the meeting is open to all students wanting to express opinions about dining.

“We’re always open to listen and to see what we can do for students,” Rodriguez said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to University Housing and Dining as the Division of Housing Services.  The Texan regrets this error.