The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.

Hall: Sorry State of College Dining

The U’s dining services have continuously fallen short of what dietary-restricted students consider adequate for such a dynamic institution.
Sam Garcia
(Design by Sam Garcia | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


In the dynamic environment of higher education, adequate dining service is often overlooked despite its profound impact on the overall student experience. The University of Utah, renowned for its academic prowess, has found its culinary landscape tarnished by a series of operational challenges. The U must push to provide more dietary restricted options in a dining environment that truly prioritizes students and their busy schedules.

Dining Hall Efficiency

Efficiency and time management are paramount in the academic journey — the dining halls at the U have regrettably emerged as sites of inconvenience. Students often find themselves ensnared in prolonged queues while ordering and retrieving meals. This not only exacerbates the time constraints of an already demanding academic schedule, but also introduces an unwarranted source of stress and frustration. Adri Cumming, a vegetarian student at the U said that “sometimes it takes 10 to 15 minutes for us to be able to order anything. And that sucks, especially if we have somewhere to go.”

The elongated waiting times can be attributed to a multitude of factors, including understaffing and inefficient kitchen workflows. These challenges not only impede the flow of service, but also detract from the overall quality of the student experience. A fundamental aspect of addressing this issue lies in a comprehensive assessment of the operational framework. This includes staffing levels, training protocols and the integration of technological solutions to streamline the ordering and food retrieval processes.

Limited Options

A diverse student body deserves a responsive and inclusive approach to menu planning, particularly for those with specific dietary preferences or restrictions. For vegetarians and individuals with dietary needs, the current situation in the U’s dining halls presents an abysmal view of limited options. This compromises the nutritional intake of individuals who have dietary restrictions. Ada Marre, a vegan student at the U, stated, “There is not good protein provided for students who are vegan or vegetarian.”

Students also run into issues with not being able to remove items from the food options. Marre also said, “I wanted to get a wrap and just wanted to remove the meat but there wasn’t even an option to do that.”

Marre stated that she was impressed with the dining halls at the beginning of the year because they labeled all the food. As time has gone on, she said she noticed that “sometimes vegan signs will be over something that is completely non-vegan.”

To alleviate this culinary conundrum, the U must prioritize diversification of its menu offerings. Although the U has G8 stations, areas where all the food is made without the eight major allergens, students at the U still face issues with finding a meal that is nutritionally sufficient. Collaborating with nutritionists and culinary experts to create well-balanced, flavorful dietary restricted options is essential. Additionally, transparent labeling of ingredients and potential allergens is crucial to empowering students to make informed choices about their meals. There won’t always be a supervisor present to answer questions about menu items.

Order Accuracy

Precise order fulfillment is an indispensable hallmark of any reputable dining establishment. Unfortunately, the U’s dining services have consistently fallen short in this regard. Students frequently encounter deviations from their specified preferences, ranging from omitted ingredients to unintended additions. This recurrent lapse not only undermines the integrity of the dining experience but also raises questions about the systemic efficiency of the U’s culinary operations. Lizzie Rugh, a student at the U, has a dairy and nut allergy. Students’ food allergens can be found right next to their names when their order is processed. Rugh said she “ordered the chicken wrap at Kahlert and they put dairy dressing on it,” despite her allergies being printed on the ticket.

Rugh describes ordering at the dining hall as a “painful process” due to her food having consistent deviations from what she orders. She says that although she understands that the kitchen staff are probably overworked and understaffed, “it’s hard” to take mistakes lightly when “this could kill me.”

Addressing the issue of inaccurate order necessitates a multifaceted strategy. Enhanced training for kitchen staff, coupled with rigorous quality control measures, can help mitigate errors in order fulfillment. Implementing customer feedback mechanisms, such as digital surveys or suggestion boxes, provides a valuable avenue for students to communicate their dining experiences. These changes could, in turn, foster a continuous improvement cycle within the U’s culinary services.

Overall Student Well-Being

The impediments plaguing the U’s dining services constitute more than mere inconveniences — they represent tangible barriers to the holistic well-being of its students. To rectify the prevailing deficiencies, we must earnestly reevaluate operational protocols and commit to culinary diversity. Additionally, we need to dedicate ourselves to ensuring order accuracy while mitigating item shortages.

By addressing these challenges head-on, the U can rejuvenate its dining facilities, ensuring they align seamlessly with the overarching objective of nurturing a conducive environment for academic and personal growth. It is incumbent upon the administration to recognize the symbiotic relationship between an optimized dining experience and the overall welfare of the student body. The current rate for a meal plan consisting of 21 meals a week is $5,850. If students are expected to pay this to have three meals a day, they deserve a dining hall that fits their needs.

As the U charts its course toward culinary excellence, it not only enhances the quality of student life but also fortifies its commitment to providing comprehensive and enriching educational experiences.


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About the Contributors
Lexi Hall
Lexi Hall, Opinion Writer
(she/her) Lexi is double majoring in English and Communications with an emphasis in Journalism at the University of Utah. She is from Las Vegas, Nevada, and came to Salt Lake City because she loves the outdoors. Lexi spends most of her time reading books and going to concerts with friends. She hopes one day to become an English Professor and a Journalist.
Sam Garcia
Sam Garcia, Designer
(she/her) Sam Garcia is a junior studying Graphic Design and minoring in Computer Science. She has a bubbly and energetic personality. Loves drawing, painting, taking care of her plants, and getting shredded at the gym.

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