By Ira Freed
Most people, along with both my mother and father throughout my lifetime always said, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” I suppose this is pretty true, even though I myself am truly not a big breakfast person to begin with. On the days I have had some sort of morning snack, or some kind of breakfast sandwich, I guess I have been more energetic, and more focused on things I have had to do for the day, so maybe there is something more to this than I had originally thought. Here is some, “food for thought.”
I have had the opportunity, in the past recent weeks, to talk to all kinds of people, both students, and faculty at CCBC Essex, and apparently the overall consensus seems to be that the cafeteria hours at the College Community Center at Essex are falling off far too much. At this point, the cafeteria opens at approximately at 7a.m. and remains open until about 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon. But what about the students, and faculty that want to get something hot or healthy to eat after 2:30 p.m. The response received was, “well, there is the cybercafé,” but that was definitely not the answer I was looking for. First off, they don’t even sell hot food except for muffins primarily, and there’s really not much to a muffin to begin with, that’s not really a meal!
I decided to try to find out why the cafeteria hours had been cut back through several administrative departments here on campus. It seems that the college has a 10 year contract with a company known as Sodexo, and although different administrative services get together to talk about extending the hours each semester, not much has been done about it. Sodexo claims that their sales drop off after 2:30 in the afternoon, and that it costs them more to keep employees standing around with nothing to do, while the students I spoke with said that this has become our “chill place,” and that, “this is where we all come to hang out, and eat before our classes at night.” And what about the students, and faculty that arrive after 2:30 in the afternoon, who have been at work during the day, or have just been too busy to get a good healthy meal before getting to school?
With the assistance of the Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation, I was able to determine that on the Essex campus that the number of course sections that start between 5 and 6:30 pm is 256 with a total of 4,200 registrations, while the number of course sections after 6:30 pm is just 24 with 352 registrations. The total number of course registrations at Essex for Spring 2014 is 22,755(all days/times). So I am thinking that it would be safe to say that during the day between 7 am and 6:30 pm there are approximately 10,457 students on campus at any given time within those hours; with that in mind that is a lot of people that attend both day and evening classes, and who probably get very hungry during those hours.
We are a community college, and the cafeteria is one of the most popular hang-outs at the school, so why not extend the hours of operation to at least 6:30 pm in the evening?! When did sales for a company become more important than providing both students, and faculty with healthy alternatives to help them to be able to concentrate, and perform better in class?
So, what can be done about the hours of operation at the cafeteria this semester? Well, probably not a whole lot can be done this semester, however, there is the possibility of voicing your opinion at Town Hall meetings, or you may be able to voice your opinion through the Student Government Association (SGA). Due to the drop-off of students in the summer session, the issue will probably not be revisited as well, but for the Fall semester, this is something Administrative Services needs to seriously consider, and hopefully they will make the necessary adjustments for the students, and faculty members to have the opportunity to enjoy the amenities of the cafeteria to the fullest extent.
*Articles reflect the views of the author and or those quoted and do not necessarily represent the views of CCBC or the CCBC Connection.
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