As students ease into spring semester, Cornell Dining has scrapped its monotonous menus from the fall in favor of redesigning food options and the dining experience.
After a rocky fall semester, where Cornell Dining made sweeping adjustments to maintain COVID-19 safety, students complained of repetitive menus such as Taco Tuesday and a never-ending rotation of French toast sticks, pancakes and tater tots for breakfast. Students also complained of long wait times — some of which eclipsed 30 minutes.
In response, Cornell Dining’s chefs and staff reevaluated and expanded their operations.
North and West Campus dining halls have brought back specialty stations, including grills and pasta bars. Spring menus will also include new specialties, with dining halls offering diverse cuisines from North Africa and the Caribbean in addition to themed holiday dinners.
Dining hall “chef dinners,” where chefs create their own specialty dishes, will return to West Campus, while seasonal specials will return on Wednesdays to North Campus.
Matt Warren ’24, said these changes have created more well-rounded and diverse dining options, which have significantly improved the student experience.
“It’s gotten better,” Warren said. “They don’t serve green beans at every meal, and they have a wider variety of ethnic options. There’s also more flavors now — not everything just has garlic.”
Warren added that the new variety of cuisines created a sense of familiarity for him.
“As an Asian, I appreciate how many Asian options there are now, they help me connect to my roots back home,” he said.
Toby Diamond ’24 echoed a similar sentiment, saying that she saw the return of dedicated specialty stations as an improvement from last semester, where the limited number of options made it difficult to eat healthy.
“North Star Dining Hall now has a salad bar, which increases my food options a lot,” she said.
Despite the changes from last semester’s operations, many of the same issues persist, including long wait times that some students see as even worse than last semester.
Shaili Lakhotia ’24 said all aspects of Cornell Dining have gone downhill, especially food quality and wait times.
“The whole operation has become much less efficient,” Lakhotia said. “The food has not been good multiple times this semester and last week I had to wait more than half an hour for dinner.”
Paige Schultz ’24 said the quality of food in the dining halls fails to match up to the price.
“I don’t have much time in my day to wait an hour for food,” she said. “Food costs $17 a meal, they should at least have food that matches the price, I don’t think COVID is an excuse for bad tasting food.”