By: Charlotte Gascoigne, Loyola Junior; Maia Koch, Loyola Freshman; Annelise Taylor Loyola Sophomore
Every college student has a dining hall horror story—from finding bugs in fresh fruit to a miserably failed attempt at a gourmet dish, but COVID-19 has provided other challenges in the dining halls.
While the Instagram accounts dedicated to Loyola dining hall disasters (e.g., @loyolafinedining and @lucicecreammachines) are tributes to the original dining hall struggles, Loyola underclassmen have had a vastly different experience with the dining halls.
The COVID-19 guidelines have changed the environment of the infamous university dining hall, both in terms of the social aspect and the food itself. Before scanning into the dining halls you’ll have to show your health app then once you scan your id card you’ll be asked if you want a paper or plastic green container. These are used for food and you’re not meant to go back for seconds. Only six students are intended to be getting food at once, so you’ll often have to wait in a line. The seating arrangements specify three students per large table and one to two students at the smaller tables.
As seasons change apparently so do the dining halls. Many students spoke of their different opinions on the Loyola dining halls and how they have changed for the better and for the worse. These past two years especially have made it particularly easy to critique, and regulations continue to adjust based on the protocols of COVID. Loyola freshmen speak on the changes they’ve witnessed from semester to semester.
Freshman Uriel Ferguson felt that the addition of the table ambassador was off-putting. He said, “Now that a lot more people are back on campus, they’ve become stricter and even added an ambassador to oversee the dining hall.”
Many have found it difficult to socialize or make friends this semester. Freshman, Kian Jodloski comments on the difficulty of being social while going to the dining halls, which used to be the most social spot on campus. He said, “With COVID I definitely think it’s a lot harder to make friends, so I hope that in the future the regulations will be loosened.”
However, Loyola upperclassman and Resident Assistant, Brice Dirl, talks about some of the major differences he’s noticed this year in the ecosystem of the dining halls. He said, “The Dining hall experience has changed a great deal. Only Damen dining and DeNobili are open, not Simpson. You can eat in the hall if you want but there’s still limited seating. The biggest change is the food containers designed for grab and go.”
A few students have noticed that the quality of the food has downgraded from past semesters and even become more repetitive.
Freshman Victor Viana has found the stagnation in the options to be an ongoing issue in the dining halls. He said, “This semester the food hasn’t been bad, there are days that are better than others. There used to be a lot more variety but now we get a lot more repetition.”
Alex Grow is a freshman who spent last semester eating his meals at Damen. He said, “Last semester they had a custom pasta bar and would hand-make the burgers and toast the buns right in front of you… now you walk in and all the food is packaged and ready to go.”
Although this semester may not seem to have as much variation, some students appreciate a large number of vegetarian options.
Freshman Daniela Hacke is grateful for the diet inclusivity in the dining halls. “Damen has been really good about being inclusive to several different types of diets that students may have. I’ve seen an increase in the vegetarian and vegan options which is great for some students.”
Although Loyola constantly updates their dining hall website pages, students request that they are more clear on when they are actually able to eat.
Sophomore Avery Bendall wishes Loyola would be better at communicating when the dining halls are open. She said, “The hours are very different this year and I have genuinely no idea when it’s open. But overall it’s definitely been a positive experience and I’m happy that we are able to be able to go this year on campus.”
One student commented on how she is overall pleased with her dining hall experience thus far. Sophomore Olivia Knab said, “I have been pleasantly surprised by my overall experience in Damen. Overall, I would say Loyola has done a great job of transitioning the dining hall into a COVID-friendly location with great food to choose from at all hours of the day.”
Many students have different preferences and opinions on the dining halls. Despite the situation with COVID, Loyola is striving to keep their students satisfied with many options to choose from, as well as safe dining regulations.