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New caf encourages overeating, food waste

Photo: Marta Kierkus

The new all-you-can-eat, buffet-style 24/7 dining hall, has been hyped up to no end. It’s new, it’s flashy, it has fancy touch screen technology, and you can eat as much as you want, whenever you want there. Regardless, there are a few reasons many students remain unconvinced that the new cafeteria is really an improvement.

One of the worst things about this caf is the ‘all-you-can-eat’ label, which only perpetuates the idea that overeating is an acceptable and sustainable lifestyle. With the 2011 Employment and Social Development Canada statistics showing that obesity rates increase as people age, it is more important than ever to develop healthy eating patterns early.

Do you really need four plates of pancakes? At the old cafeteria, you couldn’t afford four plates of pancakes, which limited the chances that you would overeat. While, the new cafeteria offers healthy options, it can be hard for students to develop the habits needed to choose a salad over a pizza when all your favourite junk food is up for grabs 24/7.

There are few other on-campus eating options that are publicized to the same extent as our new dining hall, and that means students will naturally gravitate towards it. If the hype surrounding the caf doesn’t get first-years hooked, the mandatory meal plan for those living in certain residences will.

This meal plan set up entails that students will want to get the greatest value they can from their visit to the cafeteria, as they have a flat rate deducted from their card for walking in the door, regardless of what they actually consume during the visit.

Another big issue is the new model of students serving themselves, which just creates more food waste. Students tend to grab anything and everything that seems appealing, regardless of their appetite. The new cafeteria has eliminated most of their paper-product waste, but the sheer volume of students taking food they won’t end up eating compensates for it. While most food can be composted it’s still expensive for Food Services to make food that isn’t going to get eaten.

Looking to grab a quick bite between classes? Good luck. Not only is the new cafeteria beyond crowded during meal times, taking food outside of the gates is considered theft. The old dining hall’s choices were boring come October, but at least there were fewer  lines and you could come and go with your food as you pleased.

Do you remember the days you could walk into the dining hall, grab a sub and sit down with your friends? Hopefully you treasured them, because unless your friends are willing to pay up to $11.25 to sit with you, you’ll be eating alone. Everyone who enters the cafeteria must pay the fee, because it is assumed they’ll eat.

In the old cafeteria, students were welcome to enter whether they intended to eat, study, or catch up with a friend. The casual atmosphere of the old caf was convenient and accommodating and, when you’re a student, convenience in just about everything is a necessity.

The new cafeteria may be pretty to look at, but it’s a serious step back from what U of O students had last year.