My last dinner during winter break was bittersweet. I was ready to come back to school, but the thought of eating dining hall food for the next four months was not so exciting. Then, the unexpected happened.
On my first day back at school, I walked into Marketplace and was pleasantly surprised to see an abundance of new options: three types of pizzas, many new salad choices and two hot stations that rotate options every week, in addition to all the items I was accustomed to seeing. I was especially excited because Marketplace is the closest dining hall to my dorm, and I go there frequently. Some of my favorite food items now include the beet and feta salad, pepperoni pizza and the quesadilla rotation, as well as my old favorites like the caprese sandwich and croissant breakfast sandwich.
Although Marketplace is definitely an upgrade from last semester, Commons Dining Hall remains the same. Commons is the place to be for the hungriest students among us. The Caf can get you unlimited food for a swipe. But the taste of the food is not up to par with Marketplace barring a few exceptions — the mosaic bowls and curly fries. Additionally, if you live as far from the Caf as I do, it’s often not worth the far walk. I rarely find myself going there, considering Marketplace and Sadler are significantly closer.
But one area where the Caf has Marketplace beat by a significant margin is in options for students with dietary restrictions. Marketplace should have more options for students with dietary needs, especially considering not every student lives close to the Caf. In the winter months, students with restrictions should not need to walk across campus in the cold to have a reasonable number of food opinions.
I understand why during these first few weeks of school, students are not allowed to dine inside at any food location. We need to limit the chances of a COVID-19 outbreak. But if we continue with only take-out, there need to be improvements in the dining halls. First, Marketplace must have more options for students with dietary needs, so they don’t have to venture out so far in the cold. Second, there should be more eco-friendly bags, instead of the plastic bags we so often have to use for take-out. Thirdly, we need to have a better system for avoiding the piling up of trash in dorms. If there is going to be more food, there needs to be more places to dispose of it. Dorms can start getting gross quickly as trash accumulates and overflows.
Those shortcomings aside, I hope the upperclassmen arriving on campus this weekend are pleasantly surprised by the improvement in Marketplace food. Additionally, with Sadler opening soon, I look forward to any improvements and to the opening of one of the best places on campus, Sadler Express. All in all, it looks like campus food is off to a surprisingly stellar start.
Caitlin Noe ‘24 is a Government and Psychology double major. She is also a member of Amnesty International and Film Society. She will participate in the DC Summer Institute American Politics program this summer. Email Caitlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.