Students returning to campus for the first time since March 2020 are finding it hard to navigate a transformed food scene.
The Pitman Dining Hall is closed to those without meal plans, and several eateries on campus, like the Hub Café and Ram in the Rye, have also been closed.
According to a previous report by On The Record, Ram in the Rye will stay closed until September, while Oakham Café has just reopened.
“Given the circumstances and the short turnaround time we’ve made the decision not to open this term and focus on the café,” said restaurant manager at Ram in the Rye, Crystal Pettman.
Some students, like third-year media production student, Rachel Raymond, are frustrated with the lack of options for food and coffee on campus.
“Students are going to be on campus all day long… they’ve got to eat and sustain themselves,” said Raymond. “I think they didn’t think about it enough before reopening.”
Ella Small, a second-year graphics communications management student who lives in Pitman Hall, said her food options have been limited while attending back-to-back classes. “I’m passing all of these campus eateries that are there, but they’re closed,” she said. “It would be so convenient if it was open because I would just go there and not have to make a whole trip back (to Pitman).”
Other popular off-campus restaurants have also closed their doors. Panera has closed and a new coffee shop is opening at Church Street and Gerrard Street East where a Starbucks used to be.
“Everyone keeps talking about different restaurants but I don’t know where they are,” said first-year psychology student Serena Powell. “I’ve heard there’s good food, I just don’t know where to get it.”
But some first-year students, like new media student Angela Sundiam, say there were already plenty of options for food. “The closures give a chance for smaller restaurants near us (to attract new business),” she said. “But on-campus food spots would be much easier for students.”
Since the closures, some students have been trying to save money by bringing packed lunches to campus instead.
“When we were last here I did have flex dollars so I could use them. Now I want to save my money,” said media production student, Amadeus Fernandes. “If it’s not already preloaded on the card, I want to keep my dollars in my pocket… unless it’s for coffee.”
Fernandes says she hopes to see more options in the coming months. “If you’re going to shut all those down, at least give us something in compensation… at least substitute something or give us something else.”