Xavier needs more dining options

By Grady Boris, Staff Writer

Food. It’s no secret how important it is. However, it seems to be an issue on Xavier’s campus to actually get food, especially later in the day. What is an inconvenience to every student on campus is a major problem to students who have dietary restrictions or crowded schedules.

Inconvenience is the only word that can properly describe the situation on campus for your average student. While the Hoff Dining Hall does offer some semblance of consistency, its early closing time of 8 p.m. leaves students searching for alternative food solutions both on and off campus. 

On-campus options after the dining hall closes are still limited, with Currito having inconsistent schedules and even being closed completely on the weekends. Victory Perk and Fujisan close earlier in the day as well, leaving Burger 513 as the only on- campus option after 8 p.m. Burger 513 is only open until 9 or 10 p.m., depending on the day. 

While this is somewhat unfair towards the school because of the staffing shortage, it is not the fault of the students that these places are understaffed, as they are the ones dealing with the consequences of said work shortage.

As for off-campus food options, there are a few options within reach of campus, but not everyone has the privilege of having a car or spending money. It is unreasonable to expect every student to rely on options off campus for food when they are already paying an exorbitant cost for the dining hall and the extra 200-400 dining dollars which can only get you so far.

Getting food becomes more than an inconvenience if you have a crowded schedule or a schedule that’s slated for later in the day. Student athletes, for example, have busier schedules than your average student. 

I was able to talk to a student athlete who said that she has no more than “an hour on a normal day to eat” and sometimes has as little as 20 minutes to run from class, get to the dining hall, eat and get back to practice or schoolwork. She also talked about how it “depends on study tables,” which student athletes are required to participate in after classes and practices. 

During study tables, athletes are at the Cintas Center and cannot leave until they have done their work. This struggle isn’t reserved for student athletes alone. For those who have a later or busier schedule between clubs and academics, it can be difficult if not impossible to eat three meals a day with these restricted hours and lack of alternatives.

Annoyance turns into a dilemma for those with dietary restrictions. Vegetarian, pescatarian and vegan options are in short supply outside of the dining hall. Restricted hours are also a problem for these students, but the real trouble is finding foods that work for their specific dietary restrictions. 

I reached out to a first-year vegetarian about her options on campus. 

“Options at the Caf are pretty good, (but) with the Caf closing so early and everything, it’s hard to have a balanced diet with a busy schedule,” she said. 

As for non-dining hall options, she mentioned that she “pretty much lives off of mac and cheese.” For a student to live off one food item exclusively outside of the dining hall is unacceptable. She is not alone in this problem, sadly, as a decent portion of the student base has some form of dietary restriction.

Hungry students don’t do well, which is obvious. If you’re stressing about how you’ll be able to eat with a busy schedule or worrying about where your next meal will come from because there  are no options that exist for you outside of the dining hall, you will be mentally drained. It’ll be anxiety-inducing. It is unacceptable. 

According to Dr. Howard Taras, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, “In two of the three studies conducted in the United States, food insufficiency was associated with significantly poorer cognitive functioning, decreased school attendance or diminished academic achievement.” 

If Xavier does truly care about not only their students but their reputation as a positive college environment, they should make a conscious effort to expand food options outside of Hoff. 

By no means is it an easy problem to fix. However, there are a few short-term solutions that can suffice in the meantime. 

Stocking areas such as the All for One shop with gluten-free and vegetarian options is a great start. While the staffing problem is a taller task, offering incentives such as bonuses, dining dollars and other deal sweeteners may help lure at least a few more workers — specifically student workers — to places such as Currito, Burger 513 and Victory Perk. 

Potentially reaching a deal with larger corporations that specialize in dietary restrictions such as Udi’s, Impossible Meat or even California Pizza Kitchen could allow for a steadier supply of gluten-free options in and out of the dining hall. 

While it won’t be easy to solve entirely, students should not be punished for a work shortage and certainly not for dietary restrictions outside of their control.