Dishing on Belmont Caf crowds
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Dishing on Belmont Caf crowds

Belmont’s on-campus dining is maxing out.

At least that’s what Andrew Johnston, dean of students, said.

The new semester brought a 7.9 percent increase in students, including 995 freshmen, but no new on-campus dining venues opened.

Because of this the cafeteria has been busier than ever, going through 250 pounds of chicken nuggets during lunch and feeding more than 1,000 students out of the 5,393 enrolled.

“Once it starts, it’s just push, push, push,” said Don Purdy, director of auxiliary services. The crunch is between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekdays, which makes seating a problem.

To help, Sodexo has replaced some of the booths with tables, adding 20 more seats to provide seating for a total of 480 in the cafeteria.

But the lines are increasing. Freshmen haven’t noticed because they weren’t on campus last semester to compare, but upperclassmen like sophomore Wesley Hotzfeld say they’re waiting longer.

Kyle Grover, general manager of Sodexo, thinks the lines are still efficient.

The new grab-and-go options that allow students to choose from pre-made sandwiches, cookies, fruit and drink, help keep the lines moving quickly and the congestion to a minimum.

With expanded sandwich options, the return of Chik-fil-a and the new grab-and-go options, the food managers think choices are expanding.

Some students, however, think differently.

“I don’t like the Caf that much. It’s hit or miss,” said Kevin Martin, freshman music business major.

Students can still use their Bruin Bucks at the other venues on campus such as The Corner Court or What’s Bruin, but Zach Wright, a freshman, thinks it’s all overpriced.

The choices for off-campus use of Bruin Bucks haven’t expanded either. The equipment is difficult to manage and a better program needs to be developed. Until this happens, Purdy said expanded venues for Bruin Bucks off campus will “probably be on hold.”

As for a new restaurant?  For the past two to three years Belmont has been discussing a new dining outlet for the north side of campus.

Johnston and Purdy say they realize it’s a big need.

There are no definite decisions on what kind of restaurant this would be, but Purdy said there are constant meetings to discuss it.

Until then Belmont plans to keep expanding food selection.

“There’s more selection and more variety. It’s better than it’s ever been,” Grover said.