By LAURA SCHNEIDER
Since the closure of Qdoba, Jamba Juice and the Underground Café in summer 2019, students have expressed concern about not having as many places to eat on campus, especially those who are required to have meal plans.
Panera Bread will take the place of Qdoba and Jamba Juice on the second floor of the UC but will not open until late fall 2019, according to CJ Porter, the director of Transfer and Off-Campus Student Services. Porter also said that there will not be plans to re-introduce food to the Underground for the 2019-2020 academic year. She believes it will be used as a programming space, but that hasn’t been confirmed.
“I’d say it does affect my dining options because even though I’m a senior, I live on campus, so I have to get a meal plan,” said Alli Pryor, a senior anthropology major. “They’ve taken away Qdoba, Jamba Juice and the Underground, which reduces the dining options either way.”
Some off-campus students also believe there should be more options available.
“If I were living on campus, I would be very upset,” said Alex Barbuzza, a junior computer science major and a commuter student. “I don’t eat on campus too often, but when I do, I like options, and I like the ability to eat somewhere besides the fourth floor dining hall.”
Students also worry about crowds at the dining spaces that are still open.
“With the amount of people on campus, I feel it’s harder to go to places and it not be packed with people,” said Pryor.
Porter also addressed concerns about Panera’s use of an oven in the UC dining hall. According to Porter, Panera will have one oven and a set of wares, pans and utensils dedicated to the fourth floor. Staff will move them from the fourth floor before it opens for breakfast.
Porter also said that no preparation of food with nuts will occur on the fourth floor during its operating hours, and all bakers employed at Panera and the fourth floor dining center “will receive extensive training about cross-contamination and appropriate cleaning and sanitizing of all food preparation surfaces.” Simple Servings won’t be affected by the preparation of Panera products.
Porter also commented on the fourth floor’s nut-free status.
“It is important to note that the University Center has never been completely nut-free. Items with nuts have always been prepared in our first floor kitchen and also served in our second floor eateries,” said Porter. “We could never say that the 4th floor was ‘nut-free’, only that our foods for the 4th floor were always prepared without nuts, and that will continue to be our practice.”
She added that any students who have significant medical conditions that would prevent them from eating at the dining hall can apply for a meal plan reduction or exemption.
There are a few accommodations in place for the closures. The lunch service on the fourth floor of the UC has been extended by 30 minutes on weekdays, according to UMW’s Sodexo website. Late lunch is served from 2 – 5 p.m. at the Campus Grill, Joe Stacks, Simple Servings, the Graze Bar, the Vegan Grill and the Sustenance Salad Bar.
Bodacious Burgers is also now open on campus. It is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 4 – 7 p.m., except for dinner service on Fridays, in the same area as Hissho Sushi. It serves hand-crafted smash burgers, vegetable burgers, turkey burgers and hand-cut fries, according to Porter.
Even with those accomodations and the opening of Panera later in the fall, UMW students feel that there should be more dining available to accommodate the closures.
“I’m excited for Panera to open because I love their mac and cheese,” said Pryor. “but I also wish there was another option opened for food as a place-filler since it will take a long time for Panera to open.”