The University of Connecticut Dining Services had to change many of its normal dining service procedures last year to adapt with COVID-19 limitations.
This year, many of these limitations have been removed across the university’s dining halls, which have allowed students and dining services to experience a fairly normal year.
The changes in dining options and procedures affected students the most, and caused noticeable differences in the quality and processes of getting food on campus this year compared to last, according to UConn students.
Last year, because of COVID-19 restrictions, Whitney Dining Hall remained closed. This limited options for vegetarian and vegan students living on campus, as Whitney is known to cater more toward those dietary restrictions than other dining halls.
Megha Dhillon, a third-semester animal science major, has noticed the major differences in the variety of food available on campus from last year to this one.
“I’m vegetarian, so it was really tough for me to find food on campus last semester without eating the same thing every day,” Dhillon said. “Whitney is known for being good for vegetarians, so this semester I get to eat there which helps me out.”
Faith Cesaria, a third-semester cognitive science major, has appreciated more dining locations being open this year. This includes CrossRoads, a cafe located in the Wilbur Cross Library that was closed all of last year.
“Cafes like CrossRoads being open [are] a good option for when I’m in the area, which wasn’t open last year,” Cesaria said.
Cesaria added that dining halls have been able to provide students with more of a variety of food options this year.
“The variety has improved,” she said “I have been seeing more international foods, and just different things that weren’t available last year.”
However, not all of the changes made this year have been favored by students.
Last year, Flex passes were made to be equal to a $7 value, which students could use at any of the retail cafe locations to purchase whatever they wanted, within the $7 limit. This semester, Flex passes have changed to being valid for the purchase of a salad or sandwich, a drink and a bag of chips at any retail cafe location. Flex passes this year can also be used to swipe in off-campus students once again.
Dhillon preferred last-year’s Flex pass value more, explaining that this method was more valuable to students who don’t prefer a bag of chips with their meal.
“I liked the meaning of flex passes a lot more,” Dhillon said “I think it’s really inefficient this year to use them. I’ve ended up with a million bags of chips in my dorm, which I don’t end up eating a lot of. I also think it’s inefficient for the cafes because they don’t get to sell as much food.”