A Lot on Your Plate

Upon hearing that OVT has become an all-you-can-eat cafeteria, one word came to mind: finally. With 31 percent of undergraduates living on campus, it is important to have a variety of eating options — and that includes switching up the portion sizes of meals.

Students now have an option between one all-you-can-eat cafeteria, six à la carte dining halls, two sit down restaurants and six markets. The current dining plan for dorm residents is $2,950 for the year, which amounts to just under $14 a day. A meal at OVT of a sandwich ($4.50), a bag of chips ($0.99), and a fountain drink ($1.30), can already take up half of the money allotted to the day. This is fine if you take a few meals off to eat out or go home for a weekend, but if you demand more food than this in a meal, your meal points will be gone by Christmas. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, males over 18 require between 2,000 and 3,000 calories per day. The à la carte cafeteria design does not account for a 3,000 calorie diet, with entire entree and sides ranging from 400 to 900 calories total.

Muir College’s Pines tried to address the issue of too small portions this year by adding nearly double the meat to sandwiches at the carving station. However, this move was negated by the fact that the sandwiches shot up from about $6 to $8 this fall. According to Sodexho, one of the largest college food providers in the U.S., dining hall executives have stated that students are divided on their preference for AYCE and à la carte cafeterias. The company said that the difference lies in how much a student eats, with students who eat below average favoring à la carte, and students with above average appetites obviously preferring a buffet option.

And that is why a buffet lunch priced at $8.95 sounds reasonable, and even economical for students with large appetites. The other meals vary in price, with breakfast for $7.95, and dinner for $10.95. Yet, these prices are still higher than other campuses with UCLA’s buffets costing $5.50, $7.00 and $8.25, and UCSC’s buffets at $7.65, $8.29 and $9.80. Students are comparatively spending more for endless portions, so prices could still use some improvement. While the all-you-can-eat cafeteria will help students save money by UCSD standards, the food prices are still too high when compared to other campuses.

Additionally, as far as food quality goes, OVT serves essentially the same foods as other dining halls but in smaller portions, such as thinly sliced pizza and cut-up sub sandwiches. This is similar to offerings on other UC campuses, such as UCSC’s AYCE dining halls which always have the standard soup, entree, grains and starches and bakery that OVT had on à la carte menus. On some nights, OVT is planning on having special options, such as crab legs, which may be worth the increased price of $13.95 per person.

But there are downsides. To set up for the next buffet, OVT will close from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. That is four fewer hours that people will be able to stop in and eat.

Closing hours during the day is typical practice for buffets — UCLA’s AYCE dining halls close for three hours during the day — but this still hurts after Housing, Dining and Hospitality cut all OVT weekend hours this past April. Fortunately, Marshall students are placed between a dining trifecta of Cafe Ventanas, Goody’s and Pines, in addition to three other dining halls.

While the introduction of an all-you-can-eat cafeteria is welcome and even well overdue, the campus should still hold onto the à la carte dining halls.

It is important to have a variety of eating options, because no portion or price will fit every student.

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