By Victoria Sananikone, Contributing Writer
Ames Dining Hall is one of McKendree University’s central hubs where students can go to mingle with their friends during a break from class while indulging in the solace of food. Not merely a haven for the starved student, it also serves as a relaxation zone away from the stressful dimension known as the classroom. A dimension where some professors become wary at the sight of you pulling out a Nature Valley bar to assuage your hunger.
Food is imperative for a college student to thrive within their university. It aids in fueling their brains to apply their knowledge and provides energy to walk to and from classes. This being the case, most students purchase a meal plan throughout their undergrad years that will allow them to fulfill their needs of sustenance whenever they desire (within Ames already questioned operational hours of course).
Ames Dining Hall gets the job done when it comes to feeding students, but there are many factors that could be changed which would result in happier students. I’ll spare you most of the outrageous cons of the dining hall and focus on one in particular that steals the gold medal in grinding my gears: the inability to take food out of Ames.
Yesterday I was sitting with my fellow swim teammates at breakfast after a morning practice. Throughout the week Ames had been without its usual wooden stand that contains mostly apples and bananas. But that day it was finally back and we were eager to take our fair share of fruit. One of my friends grabbed three bananas and an apple to take back to her room with her so that she could eat them as a snack or a quick pre-workout breakfast. As she was leaving Ames, a woman who I had never seen in the dining hall before, who presumably works in the kitchen, yelled angrily, “Young lady you get back in here!” Startled and appalled at the woman’s aggressiveness, my friend complied and came back inside to face the woman who demanded that she hand back her fruit as well as a half-eaten muffin that was in her hand.
“This is not a grocery store! All of the food stays in here!” the woman squawked and proceeded to stomp back to the kitchen with the fruit and the useless muffin. The swimmers who witnessed this debacle were outraged for a number of reasons.
First, the woman had no need to address my friend as hostile as she was. Would it hurt to ask kindly if she could simply put the fruit back? Second, why is it a crime for students to take food out of the dining hall? This places a restriction on a student who may have a class conflict with meal times, so if they wanted to get a meal from Ames and save it for later, it would be impossible. Third, fruit is a necessity; it is essential for our wellbeing. Some students may not have the free time or the money to buy fruit on their own and the only place to get fresh fruit within a mile radius is Ames.
Also, there are days where the bananas are AS GREEN AS GRASS. Thanks for the “fresh” and “ripe” fruit Ames! I for one like to take unripe fruits and leave them in my room to ripen and actually become edible. Depriving us of stocking up on fruit is depriving us of a healthy body. My fourth reason for outrage is the amount I pay this University for a meal plan and what I get in return for that burden upon my tuition. Since I am an athlete, I have the 19-meals a week meal plan which makes things easier and allows me to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost every day. Excluding my tuition, this is $2380 a semester, adding up to a whopping $4760 a year. I pay so much to eat food at this school and you’re telling me I’m not allowed to bring food back to my room let alone a single piece of fruit? The fifth reason is the fact that although my friend had already eaten half of her muffin, the woman still insisted on taking it back. This is an example of wasting precious food, food that she even might have prepared. I mean what was she going to do with this half-eaten muffin taken out of seemingly sheer spite? throw it away? There’s no way she could have put it back! Someone had already eaten part of it! If I was about to walk out of Ames with a full plate of food and someone from the staff tried to stop me, they wouldn’t be able to do anything but throw away the food. “I already sneezed on all of it, so sorry, you might as well let me take it!” I would proclaim as I watch my poor plate of food being taken away from me to be dumped into the black abyss of a trash can.
I believe that if universities want happier, healthier students, they should comply with a simple remedy: allow students to take food from the dining hall, or resort to a cafeteria that is open at all times during the day.
Editor’s note: There is an Ames Town Hall meeting January 31st at 7PM in 1828 if you agree with the author and would like to voice your concerns. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!