Jeanne Mance students walk far to dinner

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A student makes a sandwich in Cook Commons Oct. 1. PHIL CARRUTHERS/The Vermont Cynic

When Jeanne Mance residents were asked about their dining situation, some student’s reactions were: “Don’t even get me started.”

Jeanne Mance Hall has limited dining options on weekdays nights and even fewer on weekends.

The closest unlimited dining hall is Cook Commons, which closes at 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and is not open on weekends.

“It’s about efficiency,” Sodexo General Manager Melissa Zelazny said about Cook’s shorter hours. “Last year Cook served primarily Central Campus diners. [With the Chittenden Buckham Wills Complex torn down] it would only be serving about 50 students at dinner.”

The majority of Jeanne Mance residents, who are underclassmen with unlimited dining plans, have to either go to Harris Millis or The Marketplace in the Davis Center using the meal equivalency plan.

The meal equivalency plan is available to all students with unlimited dining plans. A $6 breakfast, $10 lunch or $14 dinner can be counted as an “unlimited” swipe. That is, if the food you choose “looks like a meal,” first-year Aine Hardaker said. “It doesn’t count if you buy three drinks.”

The Marketplace is still not what Jeanne Mance residents would call convenient. The Davis Center is just over half a mile from Jeanne Mance.

“If I see people in the Marketplace, it’s not ‘how is your food?’ it’s ‘ugh, how was the walk?’” said Resident Adviser Clarence Ng.

Making it over to Harris Millis is a night-long event, first-year Michael Daley said. “Dinner ends up being a two-hour adventure,” he said.” I can either study or have dinner tonight; I’ve got to pick one.”

Students said don’t know what they will do when it gets cold. There is no bus to campus for Jeanne Mance residents until 6:30 p.m. On weekends, getting breakfast and lunch from UVM dining will most likely require bundling up to walk in the cold temperatures.

Jeanne Mance residents have to walk almost a mile to the nearest unlimited dining hall on weekends.  Data from google maps
Jeanne Mance residents have to walk almost a mile to the nearest unlimited dining hall on weekends. Data from google maps.

“I anticipate people not eating dinner, skipping a meal or ordering in, which is inefficient budget-wise,” Ng said.

Even now, when it is still warm, ordering in or eating in town is common.

“Yeah, I just ordered food,” said first-year Chris Macumber on a Sunday night. “I easily spent $40 to $50 on food this weekend.”

“On weekends I’m either eating pizza, or a block of cheese from my room,” first-year Victoria King said. “It’s not healthy.”

“I’ve eaten breakfast downtown more than I have [on campus],” first-year Alyssa McCabe said.

Zelazny said that UVM dining is aware of the issue.

They are “trying to figure out the best solution” and “looking at options,” Zelazny said.

Some ideas include expanding the meal equivalency plan to Brennan’s which is open on the weekends, opening Cook for brunch on Sundays or allowing first-years living at Jeanne Mance to switch over to a points-only plan.

Ng received an email about an ultimatum proposed by ResLife. They plan to survey an unspecified number of students about whether they would rather continue to have late night dining at Harris-Millis or open Cook for longer operating hours.

“The majority are going to pick late night while Jeanne Mance will vote for Cook because we need it, and it’ll just stir up battles between campuses,” Ng said. “It’s not going to be a good solution.”

Students at Jeanne Mance say that their dining options aren’t fair compared to other students on campus.

“We’re paying for unlimited, but it’s not unlimited, it’s very limited,” Daley said. “We shouldn’t be paying the same amount when we don’t really have unlimited.”