As students move back on campus to the start of the Winter Quarter, Wildcat Wellness Eating Restrictions pose new challenges for some and unexpected benefits for others.
Northwestern Dining made several adjustments to food options and service during the two-week quarantine period, including offering only to-go food and closing all salad bars. The dining room staff also serves the students as opposed to the traditional self-service model.
Bee freshman Josephine Chou said she prefers to choose her own food, but that is not possible during Wildcat Wellness.
“It’s harder to control how much food you want to take because you’re not the one serving yourself,” Chou said. “If there’s a dish that contains more vegetables and there’s a vegetable that you do not like, you can not really choose it yourself.”
Chou said the opportunities in the Fall Quarter were more appetizing for her. She added that the current food served in Sargent Hall – such as “cheese-free mac and cheese” – is subordinate to NU’s usual quality.
Others, like Weinberg sophomore Lucy Garberg, struggle with the limited possibilities. Garberg said some of her good healthy options, such as salad and grilled chicken, are not available in the dining rooms.
Although she found food she wanted, Garberg said the containers were impractical. The plastic container she used for breakfast was too small to hold a normal portion, and she could not find a heat-friendly cup for oatmeal. She added that the disposable packaging is a waste.
“I think the (recyclable to-go) containers are a good idea because they are much more sustainable,” Garberg said.
Weinberg freshman Sara Azimipour said she hopes NOW will make some sustainable policy changes for its dining halls. She suggested that the university allow students to bring their own recyclable containers to reduce the amount of waste.
Sustainability issues are not Azimipour’s only problem with her dining experience. She said she also misses the social aspect of dining. The absence of meals with friends only contributes to the isolation of Wildcat Wellness, Azimipour said.
“Sometimes you go alone in the dining room and see someone you know and you can sit down and talk to them. It’s much more social when you’re in person,” Azimipour said. “Now just go back to your room … everyone is to themselves and lonely. “
Garberg, who lives in a single dorm, also said she misses normal socialization. Typically, she goes out to restaurants and does other personal activities with friends, but Wildcat Wellness guidelines limit these options.
Chou agreed that socializing is more difficult, but said she still grabs food with her friends in the dining room to preserve parts of the social experience.
However, some find that to-go meals enhance their social life. McCormick freshman Izzy Huang said he prefers this option over the classic sit-down experience, as grabbing meals to-go gives him more time to enjoy eating with friends.
“It really allows me to spend more time with my close friends because we do not rush from one class to the next,” Huang said, “it actually allows me to strengthen that bond with my friends.”
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @ joannah_11
– New dining room policies reduce seating and hours, station staff to enforce distance
– NU eater workers ratify agreement with Compass Group
– Dining services adapt to Wildcat Wellness, COVID-19 restrictions