EDITORIAL: Time To Eat, or Time To Wait?

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Published September 22, 2021
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The Montclarion
Jack Neblung | The Montclarion

Most students at Montclair State University seem to agree on-campus dining has improved overall since last year. With everyone back on campus, the 4 p.m. closings and sparse selections seem to have rescinded in favor of more satisfactory hours and dining options. But one thing that has yet to change about dining on campus is the long wait times for food.

Whether it’s for a full lunch or simply a quick coffee before class, just thinking about getting food at Montclair State requires planning and luck, mostly the latter. First, allot at least 20 extra minutes for the wait. Panera and Dunkin’ Donuts seem to be the worst offenders when it comes to lines, which makes sense given the popularity of each. Depending upon your location on campus, even a good half-hour set aside before your next class may not be enough time to both get food and then eat it without scarfing it down.

If the wait is doable, next prepare to scrounge up some faith. Will the dining center of your choice have an option you can eat, either in terms of preference or dietary needs? Some establishments often do not have everything they normally stock in a full-size store. Others experience frequent shortages on certain items due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, making it hard to plan ahead and resulting in frustrating dilemmas.

Who wants to wait in line only to find that the one thing they want is not available? Students don’t have a lot of time on their hands, so whatever moments they can set aside for a meal or snack is valuable.

Like the notorious parking situation, the problem of long waits for food has persisted at Montclair State for years. Many students who are now seniors recall facing the issue as freshmen. For some, it is simply a fact of life here on campus. However, such issues have been exacerbated by the record influx of students on campus this semester.

Once again, students find themselves facing down constant inconveniences, all unavoidable and completely out of their control. Everyone deserves to be able to enjoy a meal with friends between classes or indulge in a coffee break on the quad while the weather is still nice. After the long wait to return to campus, the struggle over yet another necessity feels exceptionally stressful and ill-deserved.

For those students who can bring food from home, this issue may not seem so major. But residents and others who rely heavily on Montclair State’s dining services are feeling the strain. The difference between feeling nurtured, energized and ready to take on the day versus hearing your stomach rumble as you head into yet another lecture can make or break your studies.

Poor or inconsistent eating habits have been linked to fatigue, more frequent illness and other dangerous health detriments. The Snickers commercial isn’t just a gimmick: you really are not yourself when you’re hungry. Food is never a luxury, especially in an intensive environment where your success depends on your concentration and attentiveness.

Long food lines and wait times at Montclair State will likely continue to be a problem. More staff members at the most popular locations might alleviate the issue partially but until that is possible, the burden falls on students. Bringing food from home is the safest bet, and keeping snacks in your bag or car can be a life-saver if time is short.

Montclair State has worked to improve many aspects of on-campus dining, which certainly are appreciated. But ultimately, making certain everyone gets to enjoy those improvements needs to be a priority as well.

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