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Let’s Talk About Dinner: A Solution to Fix the DIning Hall

By Michael T. Norfolk, Features Contributor

The first time I walked into the dining hall this semester, my hopes and

expectations for our food service instantly rose. The walls had been painted with a fresh

coat of white paint, the stations had been renamed and redesigned, even the cereal

machines actually worked the way they’re supposed to. The lights were bright, both

literally and metaphorically. Ms. Regina was back, cooking the best breakfast the world

has ever seen and meanwhile, Frank was running The Grill like it was nobody’s

business. But even more pleasing was the unveiling of the self-serve station.

This newest addition was the biggest improvement of them all. Just as Von Miller

sharpened up the Bills’ defense and turned them into the undisputed top team in the

AFC, the self-service station turned the dining hall into a serious contender to become

the best dining option on campus. No longer did we have to wait in line for ten minutes

to get a bite to eat. No longer did we feel nervous, ashamed even, to ask for an extra

piece of chicken breast. No longer did we have to wait for the dining workers to return to

their station, restless from being understaffed and exhausted from working in the back over the delicious food they prepare for us. The dining hall had reached a new level of

efficiency and the students came out in droves in response, even despite the increased

prices that officially made it more cost effective to use Griff Bucks at Iggy’s every night

rather than spending nearly twice as much on the dining hall.

Then it all changed. Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, the self-service station that we

had enjoyed over the previous month was suddenly gone. I looked to my left, I looked

to my right, I looked behind me… there were at least ten people in every line. These lines

spilled over into other stations and lasted more than fifteen minutes at every option. For

someone who admittedly has little patience, this was the worst possible case scenario.

Luckily, the salad bar is still an option...until it runs out of chicken and the other non-tofu

sources of protein. I thought it was just a fluke. But then the next day it was closed, and

again on the day after that. The dining hall had reverted back to its old ways, when

there was no such thing as a “self-serve option” and this is widely viewed as a negative


I recently ate dinner at a dining hall at University at Buffalo, and it opened my

eyes to what our dining hall could be. Food was pre-made and already sitting on plates

for students to walk up and grab. There were tongs that gave students the option

between either a chicken sandwich or a burger, both available to them at the same

station. There was actually less staff on hand there then at Canisius, but they worked as

attendants for the stations rather than in the cook/gatekeeper role we have here. For the

same price as dinner at Canisius, the Buffalo students were able to get food at their own

leisure and sample sizes while enjoying the luxury of short lines. Even when I did have

to wait in line, it was for no longer than three minutes, and that was only because they

were reloading the french fries.

I won’t be naive, Buffalo is a SUNY school and therefore has more funding than

we do. I don’t know how much food they throw out on a daily basis, but I’m sure it’s

more than what our dining hall does. I’m not suggesting that we completely adapt

the SUNY Buffalo dining style but I am suggesting that there are small changes we can

make that will improve the efficiency of our dining hall. The easiest change we can

make is to bring back the self-serve station we had at the beginning of the year. I don’t know why they took it away in the first place, but it is a noticeably slower and less satisfying dining experience. The workers I talk to constantly tell me that they’re understaffed and have to run around all over the place to keep multiple stations open and cook the food. Having the self-service station is better for the students, better for the workers and creates the most satisfying dining experience Canisius has offered since I got to campus in 2019.

While this article can’t do much to get the attention of whoever is in charge of the

dining hall, the actions taken by students can. I’m not outright saying we should boycott

the dining hall, but I am saying it makes a heck of a lot more sense to go to Iggy’s than

to spend an hour in the dining hall every day because the lines are so long. If anyone

can direct me to where I can make a formal suggestion or who I should talk to, please

contact me.

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