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Hungry Hungry Hobart

By: Antonio Iannetta – Layout Editor

When one is hard at work, slaving away at projects, classes and more, there is nothing more rejuvenating than getting a nice meal. To be able to go to a restaurant and order a fine plate, pick up a variety of swiftly-prepared foods or enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal is one of the most joyous pleasures in life.

Students who go to class at Hobart Hall do not have that luxury. Despite working long hours on whatever life throws at them, there is not enough food available to them the building to keep them energized.

The hall itself only has a few eating options: one vending machine for frozen food, one for snacks and refrigerated items and two for drinks.

“Any other building on campus has rather quick access to food of some type,” said Thomas Smith, a 21-year-old junior and worker at the Technical Services Window. “But over here, you’ve got nothing.”

Would one happen to glance into these machines, they’d find a bleak assortment of generic, ill-suited foods. A few simple bars of candy and snacks, chilled cups of tuna and similar refrigerated goods and TV dinners. Many believe the generic nature and unappealing appearances of these options are not sufficient to merit purchasing them.

“Honestly, nobody wants to eat tuna from a vending machine,” said Dessire Gonzales, a 22-year-old broadcast journalism major. “It’s disgusting- how long has it been there?”

Students who take classes in Hobart express displeasure- even disgust- with these meager accommodations, especially the frozen-foods machine. At times students choose to forgo meals entirely rather than make use of them.

“I don’t take anything from there unless I need water,” said Dom Siconolfi, a 21-year-old junior. “I don’t buy snacks from the machines at all.”

Hobart Hall is located on the south side of campus, past parking lot three. To get to Hobart one has to walk downhill through buildings and fields of cars- and then a tiring walk back up those slopes to return to the main campus.

“I take classes and I work here, so I’m here pretty much all day every day of the week,” Smith said. “I’ll either go up to the vending machine and see if I can settle for something in there, or if I have the time I’ll have to walk to QuickChek.”

Other food options are too far away from campus as well. Despite the campus being a central location it can take awhile to get to them. With the closing of Momma’s Boy on Hamburg Turnpike, yet another easily-accessible option is closed off to WPU students.

“The walk is too far, so I just wait it out,” Gonzales said. “But if I have my whole day here, then I have no choice but to go to the student center.”

Gonzales added that she commutes to campus, which adds another layer of difficulty onto getting proper nutrition. The commute, as well as difficulty finding parking, keeps her from frequenting the cafeteria within the Machuga Student Center.

Not to be discouraged, students do have ideas of their own for how to remedy this poor food situation. Most common among them were the addition of a café, similar in concept to Einstein Bros Bagels in University Hall.

“There’s tons of rooms in this building that aren’t used anymore,” Smith said. “And the lounge upstairs is a lot of wasted space, to be honest. We need something small up here- maybe even if the food is cooked and shipped over here from the other side of campus.”

Even basic commodities such as a stock of semi-fresh foods and means to prepare them would make students happy.

“It doesn’t need to have an oven or anything,” Siconolfi said. “They just need a press or something, and then make bagels like that. It’s not hard to do.”

Other ideas included vendors that set up shop within parking lot 8, or that come and go throughout the day.

“I had the ideas that we could get a vendor, like a taco truck or a hot dog vendor to come here a couple of times during the week,” Siconolfi said. “I guarantee students would pay a little more money than usual to get food that way.”

However, such plans are easier said than done. There is a cost to placing a café or other major options in a building like Hobart.

“Over the years we have been asked if we could install a café similar in size or even smaller to the new one in University Hall,” said Stephen Bolyai, vice president for administration and finance at WPU. “We have done financial analyses and the amount of student, faculty and staff traffic in that building does not support the initial capital expense to create one, nor would it support its ongoing operating expenses.”

Bolyai stated that the primary reason behind this is the cost of equipment and staffing. He also added that a food truck would not be viable for many of the same reasons, but that “outside vendors have and continue to deliver takeout food to the building,” and that the vending machines were upgraded and expanded from previous years to meet demands.

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