During homecoming weekend,
Northern is scheduled to open their newly renovated dining hall, Northern Lights Dining. The renovation of the area cost the university a hefty $5.8 million. Meanwhile, many people who live on campus struggle to find good things to eat in the dining halls. An improvement in the quality and diversity of the food items offered at the dining halls would help students enjoy a better diet, as well as become more satisfied with the choices offered to them.
Though the university is trying to make an effort to accommodate the increase in incoming students, places like the Wildcat Den already offer a solution to overcrowding. The Den is also a great example of having quality meal options, regularly having healthy options like stir fry and vegetables, as well as popular items such as burgers. However, the Northern
Lights Dining area is the most visited on campus dining area because it is located so closely to residence halls and is open for longer hours than the Wildcat Den, which is now closed after 5:30 p.m. and on the weekends.
When students do not have another dining hall to go to, the quality of the food that The Lights provides becomes even more important. Instead of merely expanding the dining area and continuing to provide the same quality of food, Northern should allocate funds to provide better food options at the Northern Lights Dining Hall.
The temporary buffet-style eating arrangement at The Lights has struggled to provide enough food for students, frequently running out of the main course while people are still waiting in a long line. This temporary arrangement has mostly provided students with the usual low quality items.
The benefit to this is the Cafe, which is open temporarily until the dining hall is completed. The Cafe offers students the option to carry out up to four items with only a meal swipe. If this selection was expanded it could often replace a regular sit down meal for students who would rather be able to eat outside the dining hall. The Cafe could help with the issue of overcrowding, as well as become a replacement for the popular “Late Night”, which allowed students to take meals outside the dining hall but was discontinued this year. The main reason the Cafe will not be able to stay open is most likely due to the high cost of providing these items to students up to three times a day with only a card swipe. To make this option sustainable, the university could reduce the Cafe to only up to three items and only one use per day for each student.
If the university wants to improve the physical appearance of its campus, they must also keep in mind the quality of the services they provide as well. On campus students collectively pay about $9 million to the university for meal plans, and the entire student body is paying the bill for all of the new projects and changes on campus.
The university should focus on developing in a way that is most beneficial to the students’ needs, and not just what looks best to visitors.