by VERONICA A. CLARK
In a recent IAIA CHRONICLE survey of students, 96 percent of 58 respondents said there should be food available on campus when the Bon Appetit café is closed.
“Considering how isolated the campus is,” one student commented, “alternative options should be available.”
Far From Food
IAIA is located just over three miles from the nearest restaurant, which is El Parasol, and nearly six miles away from the nearest grocery store, which is Albertson’s; the Walmart Supercenter is just over five miles away.
This doesn’t include the local Rancho Viejo Village Market, located a mile and a half away, which specializes in beer and wine and has a limited supply of groceries.
Since public buses only take students from IAIA into town from 7:51 a.m. to 5:21 p.m. Monday through Friday and not at all on weekends, getting to a restaurant or grocery store could be difficult for students who don’t have cars.
Just Starve and Deal With It
When students were asked what they do if they are hungry when the café is closed, one student said, “Now that I have a car, I will go buy something to eat. Of course, this costs gas as well. In the past, before the car, I would just starve and deal with it.”
Many students commented that they would like to have food and coffee available during late night study sessions. “Breakfast is too early for some of us students,” one student commented. “We stay up late working on projects. It would be nice if the café could stay open for breakfast until ten on weekdays.”
Fitness Class on a Full Stomach
Others said they are in class during the time the café is open or they have a fitness class at 6:00 p.m. and this interferes with the dinner hours.
One student commented, “Students taking a six o’clock fitness class have two options: one is to eat and then workout immediately, yuk. Second is not to eat at all.”
JoAnn Bishop, fitness and wellness director, said, “Students are forced into a dilemma. They either have to eat very early and go to fitness classes with food half digested, or gulp food down and go to a fitness class with food not digested or not eat.”
She also commented that it would help students out quite a bit if the café was open later, giving students more of an option of when to eat. “It impacts more than just the fitness classes,” she said.
Bishop also pointed out how healthy the food from Bon Appetit café is. “I’ve never worked at a school that has such healthy and well prepared food,” she said. “I just wish it was open a little later in the evening.
Supply and Demand
So why such limited hours? One reason is demand.
Guido Lambelet, general manager of Bon Appétit explained that the café used to be open until 6:30 p.m. “We only had an average of eight to twelve [meal plan card] swipes per week after six,” he said, so the hours were reduced because of the number of students who used the café at this time.
This was confirmed by Carmen Henan, dean of students. “We shortened the dinner hour last spring semester to one hour because of the low number of students who were eating in the cafeteria.”
She also mentioned that students can stay after the café is closed. “They can come in at five fifty-nine and stay and eat past six p.m.”
But the café staying open later isn’t just an issue of how many students will utilize it, Henan pointed out. If the café were to stay open later and serve more than three meals a day, the cost of the meal plan would have to go up, she said.
Not all students “starve” after the café closes, however. One student commented in the survey, “[I] make my own [food] at [the student success center] or go to the vending machine.” Vending machines are located in the academic building and in the dorms. Snacks mostly consist of chips and candy, but one of the machines in the dorms carries protein bars as well.
The SSC is fully equipped with a refrigerator, a stove, a sink, cooking utensils, and dishes. A sign is posted in the SSC kitchen stating the rules of using the space, which include students cleaning up after themselves, labeling their food, not leaving food too long, and not taking anything from the kitchen space (such as utensils).
The sign also states the hours which are Monday through Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For any questions regarding the kitchen space, the sign indicates to contact Mae Austin.
Although the SSC kitchen is open longer than the café on Mondays through Wednesdays, and open between meals, it still closes at 7 p.m. which still might not give students getting out of class at that time or later the chance to eat.
Henan also pointed out that Food Day is coming up and that students are welcome to elaborate on a discussion of food on campus during this event. Food Day will be held at IAIA on Wednesday, Oct 28.
(Featured Photo: Bon Appetit employee, Christian Marquez, shuts the cafe door at closing time. Photo by Veronica A. Clark.)