Students face limited on-campus dining options during first spring-break weekend

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Update: The Spectrum has learned UB's COVID-19 informational website indicated dining facilities would be "arranged for access" during the week of March 14-22. On-campus UB dining locations were not open Saturday and Sunday, according to UB Campus Dining & Shops website.

After university officials announced Wednesday that “dining will be open for students who remain on campus” given a “distance-learning” shift at UB, students woke up to the contrary on Saturday.

Security gates shut down popular on-campus food establishments Saturday and the only places open on campus were in The Commons, which does not accept student dining plans.

As some students remain on campus while America clears grocery shelves this weekend amid the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, dining locations across UB’s three campuses were closed both Saturday and Sunday, according to UB Campus Dining & Shops’ website. The closures led to student confusion after UB administrators such as President Satish Tripathi and Provost A. Scott Weber wrote in emails that “dining will be open for students who remain on campus” and campus operations would “continue without interruption.” The emails were in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement of a SUNY-wide shift to “distance-learning” which UB will follow beginning March 23 amid the national health pandemic.

University officials did not respond to The Spectrum’s question as to whether the UB emails referred to dining hours beginning Monday. 

While dining options remained closed Saturday, CDS announced Saturday afternoon that it would bring its Big Blue and Little Blue food trucks — which accept Dining Dollars — to both North and South Campus on Sunday.

Hannah Jennings, a freshman electrical engineering major, was not able to move out of her dorm on Friday and couldn’t use her meal plan on campus Saturday.

“It was crazy trying to find breakfast Saturday morning,” Jennings said. “I had to walk to the Starbucks in The Commons just to get something.”

Leeann Herbert, a freshman computer science major, said she is staying on campus through spring break and was “really upset” about there being no dining options for her meal plan Saturday.

“So many people are staying back and a lot of us are at a loss of what to eat,” Herbert said. “Sure, you could have stocked up beforehand at the Elli and Walmart, but honestly the Elli is overpriced and you can only really get to Walmart on Saturdays if you take the UB bus.”

Students living on campus with dining plans over spring break will have increased options on Monday, according to CDS’ website, including the Elli, Sizzles, Tim Hortons and Putnam’s.

CDS’ website indicates schedules will “be posted online and in individual operations” and “schedules are subject to change.”

Benjamin Blanchet is the engagement editor and can be reached at benjamin.blanchet@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @bencblanchet. Isabella Fortunato is the assistant arts editor and can be reached at isabella.fortunato@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter at @im_fortunato.

BENJAMIN BLANCHET



Benjamin Blanchet is a graduate student and student journalist based in Buffalo, New York. Aside from The Spectrum, Blanchet has appeared in Brooklyn’s ARTSY Magazine and New York’s RESPECT. Magazine.