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Nelson Dining Hall on Ohio University's South Green. (FILE)

VIDEO: Students report missing meals, frustration due to wait times at dining halls

Many students have expressed their frustration with the often hour-long wait times at Ohio University dining halls caused by COVID-19 policies during the first week of Spring Semester.

Students are required to stand on markers on the ground placed 6 feet apart and may only get food to-go. Chairs have been set up to outline specific paths to the different meal options to reduce student contact inside the dining halls.

Early in the week, only Nelson Commons and Boyd Hall were available for takeout. On Wednesday, OU announced it was partially reopening Shively Court’s Grab N’ Go option — after a permanent closure last year — along with a new app, called OHIO EATS, which is designed with COVID-19 safety guidelines in mind. 

Students can now pick up meals ordered through the OHIO EATS app at the Shively Grab N’ Go, Boyd Market and The Front Room Coffeehouse.

The dining halls are generally open from morning until evening, but due to the wait times, some students have said they are unable to fit meals into their schedule.

Nathan Phillips, a freshman studying theater, skipped dinner Tuesday in order to avoid the long lines in fear of being late to a class he had later in the evening. 

“I don’t think I should have to be worried about waiting in line for two hours just to get something to eat,” Phillips said. 

"I'm actually considering going back home because I'd rather not pay $7,000 to live here when I don't have any in-person classes and the food is like this."

What students are saying:

Grace Kessler, a sophomore studying conservation wildlife biology, is frustrated with the increase in wait time she is experiencing this year compared to her first year on campus. 

"The amount of time that it takes me to go walk to the dining hall, get my food and come back, is the same amount of time that it would have taken me to go there and eat my whole meal and come back to my dorm last year."

Not only have the lines been a source of frustration for students, but they have deterred students from going to dining halls altogether. 

"I'm angry and now I'm skipping lunches because I can't guarantee that I'm going to be back in time for classes," Lydia Caggiano, a freshman studying exercise physiology, said.

Kessler arrived in Athens last Friday and has only been to the dining hall three times.

“I know for a fact I’m not going to use all my swipes,” Kessler said. 

To combat the long lines, university spokesperson Carly Leatherwood encourages students to stagger their visits to the dining halls. 

“We have just over 3,000 students living on campus this spring, and for many of them, this is their first time ever experiencing our dining facilities,” Leatherwood said in an email.

Leatherwood said that dining hall staff is working hard to adjust to COVID-19 regulations allowing the halls to stay open and encourages students to do the same. 

“I think they're trying their hardest to get us to social distance, it's just a matter of how people follow it,” Kessler said. “Once you're done waiting in the line and you are getting your food, it does go fairly quickly.” 

Though the floor markers and staff do encourage students to social distance, some students feel that being in a dining hall while it is crowded during peak times still puts them at risk of contracting COVID-19.

"It's not good. The line is going all the way out of the dining hall. Everyone is close together so I wouldn't be surprised if some people got COVID because of that," Deontae Brown, a freshman studying anthropology, said.

The lines are also pushing some students to plan out their visits well in advance to be able to fit the long wait times into their schedule.

“I’m not coming here on the weekends because I can’t deal with this seven days a week,” Caggiano said. 


Molly Wilson

News Editor

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