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I’m still hungry

Guest Columnist | Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I would like to take what Mitchell Myers said in his article Grab and Go system unfair one step further with this:

I stare morosely at the pathetic array of food behind the glass door. Three halves of a peanut butter sandwich wrapped in a sterile little package is to be the staple of my quick lunch. I take it from the shelf trying to look at the bright side of things; at least I won’t be eating the soggy veggie wrap that was my other choice. I then snag a yogurt, possibly the most sustenance I will be getting from this meal. I grab a juice box, which I can tell from its size will not even be enough to wash my peanut butter sandwich down. That brings me to six points. Now here?s the difficult decision. What will I get with my final point, a tiny snack size bag of chips or an even more miniscule cup of pudding? Choice made, I head to the register to check out.

Is this going to be dinner the lady at the check-out inquires.

Dinner!? I exclaim in surprise, but it’s barely noon!

She calmly explains to me that I cannot charge the meal as my breakfast because it is passed the time that is considered breakfast. I also cannot use my lunch because I participate in the Wednesday Fast, meaning I give up the privilege of eating in the dining hall so that the money that is saved from my not eating will be donated to charity. This naturally leaves my dinner meal as the only charge possibility. I, personally, find this to be ridiculous. We are busy college students who need to be able to use our meals at the time of our choosing and know that even if we don’t have the time to sit down in one of our fine dining halls that we will get a filling meal.

What I’m trying to get at is that Notre Dame’s meal system needs a bit of revamping. First of all, the seven-point system is a flawed one. For those of you that do not know about the seven-point system, the gist of it is this: each food item is assigned a certain point value. Sandwiches and wraps are three points; yogurts, parfaits are two; fruit, juice, pudding, chips, things like that are one point. Students choose items until the total point value is equal to seven points. I feel that it should be changed to something similar to Purdue’s On-the-Go. Purdue’s On-the-Go uses a much more effective system. Instead of a meal that adds up to seven points, Purdue allows their students to pick one entrée and four sides. This means that Purdue students are always guaranteed five items. Here at Notre Dame if you want to have a yogurt and a sandwich you can only at most get four items. Plus Purdue has many more choices than Notre Dame. For their entrée, they can pick from sandwiches, hot or cold, hotdogs, burgers, salads, etc. Their sides are really diverse: fountain drinks, fruit snacks, macaroni salad, potato salad, ice cream, along with all the things that we offer. So you see, for the hard working student needing to eat on the go, this system is more filling and appetizing. Studying on an empty stomach, as we all know, is just one more distraction that we don’t need.

Now imagine this. It’s Friday afternoon. The week has been a difficult to say the least. A math test over a subject you still don’t understand even after six hours of nonstop studying, a lab where you titrated a substance that you can’t even pronounce, homework in every class and your on-campus job have you extremely worn out. That without including section sports, dorm sports and the various clubs you are in. You have barely had time to sleep let alone eat, leaving you with four extra meals. What do you do with them? You can’t eat in the dining hall, you’ve already had dinner. You can’t go get Grab-and-Go either. What happens is that these meals are wasted. They don’t roll over; you can’t spend them; your money pays for nothing. These meal need to be able to be claimed. Food Services should not put a limit on the number of meal that students can eat per day nor the time at which they can use them. There are times during the week where you simply cannot fit in breakfast for example. Why not let students have an early lunch and a late lunch? We should be able to eat when we can rather than at the rigidly assigned times that we must now. The 14 meals should be able to be used at any time during the week. Let students budget their own meal plan. We’re big boys and girls. That way students’ money will not be wasted. We should be able to redeem our remaining meals at the end of the week, or run out by Thursday. It should be about the convenience to the student. Stocking up at the end of the week will give us the option of going out or eating at home. So what if we grab 28 bags of popcorn at one time. Maybe we are planning on throwing the greatest popcorn and a movie party ever.

We students need to take control of our money. We know when we are hungry and we know when we are not. Let us decide to waste all of our meals in the first five days of the week and go hungry the last two. Make Grab-and-Go comparable to the dining hall food. Eating on the fly gives us students more time to study, which is after all the whole reason we came to Notre Dame, right? We need to be able to have a comparable option to the dining hall. Students need to be able to eat on the go, and to be able to do it when they want to. The best way to do this is to overhaul they Grab-and-Go system and to remove limits on when students can claim their meals.

Jacob Szczudlak is a junior. He can be contacted at thronick@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.