Eating on-campus was always a struggle for me.
Because of my class schedule, refusing to go in the dining hall if there were too many people and not getting off work until after the dining hall closed, it was hard for me to justify having the required $2,300 meal plan.
There were many late-night runs to Domino’s and Culver’s just to have something to eat—which only helped the promised “freshman 15” become a reality.
So when I moved off-campus, I was excited to cut my food costs dramatically and eat good, healthy food (y’all know the Augustana Dining Hall isn’t the best at that). For a while, that’s what happened. I regularly feasted on grilled chicken with quinoa and rice, steak with asparagus and veggie stir-fry.
Then life got in the way.
Now, my diet consists of a nightly rotation of frozen Perdue chicken nuggets, frozen Red Baron pizzas, tacos and spaghetti. The amount of vegetables I consume is frighteningly low and the only beverages in my fridge are beer and a recently-expired jug of milk.
Still, at least I don’t have to eat the Commons food.
Almost every review for Augustana will tell you, at the very least, that the dining hall food isn’t great. Let’s be honest: sometimes it is bad, but there are saving graces. The salad bar isn’t awful and the chicken strips are decent. The breakfast food is also hearty enough to put you in a food coma right after you wake up for the day. However, because of the weird hot-food hours, I had a tuna sandwich and cucumbers for lunch every single day for an entire semester my sophomore year. I certainly am eating a lot of the same stuff living off campus, but at least I’m not paying what amounts to over $550 a month for food.
I really don’t have a lot of room to complain. I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan. I don’t have lactose intolerance, celiac disease or even a peanut allergy. I know for students who do have dietary restrictions, eating in the dining hall is a real struggle and, at times, close to impossible.
Putting aside the crazy price of meal plans and the mediocrity of the food (after all, this is a college and not a five-star restaurant), Augustana and Sodexo need to do a better job of accommodating students with dietary restrictions as well as those of us that can’t follow the traditional meal times due to classes and jobs.
Unfortunately, I believe that for those with a special diet or crazy schedules, off-campus living is always going to be a better choice when it comes to food options.
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