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Food gripes

Staff editorial | Thursday, February 19, 2009

Notre Dame’s dining options, while a step ahead of other schools, leave something to be desired.

The fixes require only effort, not a massive overhaul of the system. The dining halls present plenty of options for students to choose from, but they often lump them on the same nights and go weeks without bringing them back. Students have a multitude of choices outside of the dining hall, such as Subway, but the lack of participation in nationwide sales events detracts from the experience. Finally, some of the blame falls on students: they gum up the works in the dining hall and prolong the dining experience.

We believe simple steps will solve these problems. Not a Chipotle on campus or brand-new food in the dining halls, but small changes to take the solid dining options this campus offers to the next level.

First, the dining hall: it’s not hard to see which foods attract the most students. The lines for peppered flank steak and General Tso’s chicken demonstrate the level of demand. And more often than not, when the dining hall introduces a new option, it gets a good response. Same with the cookies at lunch and cinnamon rolls.

So why serve some of these items on the same night? Asking someone to choose between the General and shrimp poppers just isn’t fair. Serving six-cheese sachattini and chicken fingers also asks for too much of a decision.

Once the great items have been served, they disappear for weeks, and we’re left with roast top round of beef for six days straight and the rest of the dining hall food that’s there every day.

Spacing out the good stuff makes sense. If it was offered every day, it wouldn’t be special. But space out the good meals between themselves as well, so there are solid options at least one or two nights a week.

On another note, no more breakfast for dinner nights on the weekend. Essentially, you’re eating breakfast for lunch and dinner, and nobody wants that.

Also, do the wings have to invade the dining halls on wing night? The wings occupy all three grilling stations in South Dining Hall on wing night, leaving you little choice but to take some wings.

Now to Subway. If we’re going to be barraged with five-dollar footlong commercials on television, we should be able to purchase them in LaFortune. Whether it’s real money or flex points, five-dollar footlongs would increase revenue for Subway because more people would buy them. Think of how nice this would be for off-campus students with no meal plans or flex points who – gasp – use real money to buy food.

Finally, to the students in the dining hall. It’s like everything else in life: Use your head. Look where you’re going. But in case that’s too complicated, here are some guidelines to follow.

Follow this pecking order when allowing people to go past you: dining hall personnel with carts, students with full trays, dining hall personnel without carts, students with empty trays and finally, regular students. Don’t get in the way of someone with a loaded tray.

Don’t stand in front of the drink dispensers, or any food for that matter. Get your cup or plate, procure your choice of food or drink and move on.

Don’t line up for the coveted second-level tray spot on the empty-tray carousel. Put some effort into it and put the tray on the top level or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, lay your empty cups down and use the first level.

Just some food for thought.