The dining halls at Ohio University have changed the way they distribute food to students this semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of students being able to self-serve their own food, and eat inside of the building, workers distribute food into to-go containers and students must eat in their residence hall.
Without the ability to sit down within the dining halls, students are unable to go back for seconds, or sometimes receive more food than they will be able to finish.
“I'm always worried about not grabbing enough food and being hungry later, so I often overestimate how much food to take,” Taylor Gooch, a sophomore studying sociology pre-law, said in an email.
Gooch said she believes a lot of food is being wasted this semester. Theo Bookwalter, a student worker at Boyd, said instead of throwing the food away, it is being composted each night.
“Most of the food is composted at the end of the night,” Bookwalter said in an email. “But on average I would say we compost one to two pans of each side dish depending on the part of the dining hall, and usually the main dish is either saved for something else or we serve it all.”
Additionally, associate vice president of Auxiliaries, Gwyn Scott said the dining halls have created no extra food waste this semester.
“Culinary Services is not creating additional waste. We don’t pre-determine portion sizes, as students request what and how much of the menu items that they would like,” Scott said in an email. “The potential for increased waste would be produced by the individual students asking for larger portions and or more items than they eat.”
Jazmine Amoako, a freshman studying economics, said there is a difference in portioning at each dining hall.
“You can really get as much food as you want or ask for,” Amoako said in an email. “At Nelson, they are very generous when giving food out so much so that you have to tell them to stop. At Boyd however, you have to keep asking for more.”
Gooch said she has had a harder time finding room in her schedule to go to the dining halls this semester due to longer lines.
“My dining hall routine has changed a lot this year,” Gooch said in an email. “Instead of sitting and eating in the dining halls, we are now required to take the food to-go. Additionally, I try to map out adequate time to visit the dining halls. The lines are frequently longer this year.”
Additionally, Gooch said Boyd lacks previous menu items and some sanitization efforts.
“Boyd Dining Hall also does not remove the lids for cups from the plastic bag, and it feels very unsanitary to reach my hand in there to grab a lid,” she said in an email. “So many hands are touching the plastic and the lids the way the beverage station is currently set up.”
Gooch feels as though there should have been a better set up in dining hall times and portioning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I wish after you swiped for a meal period, like lunch or dinner, you could come back in within the mealtime to refill up a container without paying another meal swipe,” Gooch said in an email. “I think this could prevent people from grabbing too much food, or still being hungry after eating the contents of a to-go box.”