Dining Services' Anytime Dining has been in place for two weeks now. The new plan allows underclassmen a more affordable and robust meal plan that won't leave them either gorging or starving at the end of the semester. This editorial board commended how Dining Services handled the meal plan transition at its inception and through its installation. We still do, as Dining Services officials have done their best to provide answers for students with questions. But like most things, the plan hasn't turned out quite as well as one would hope.
In the past two weeks, this editorial board has noticed some unwelcome changes and heard feedback from students that point to a few flaws in an otherwise good plan: shorter cafe hours, limited deli options, the elimination of takeout and the indefinite closure of the campus' beloved food truck, Green Tidings.
Cafes on the campus were always convenient go-tos for a late afternoon coffee, a quick snack or even a place to grab a meal before class if one deemed the dining halls too far away. Now that some cafe hours have been cut, so has the convenience aspect students always adored. Cafes have therefore become inconvenient, especially for students with classes later in the day. Though the board understands Dining Services' actions in the name of fiscal solvency, the seemingly abrupt transition is something that could ultimately leave students scrambling to make up for fewer options.
Limiting deli options is also a detrimental move. Buffalo chicken wraps made up 40 percent of all dining hall sandwich orders last year, but they are no longer available daily. They're a staple in the University of Maryland community; tour guides advertise them to prospective students and alumni remember them fondly. While this editorial board understands Dining Services' move toward healthier options, the buffalo chicken wrap is a institution at this university — something not to be messed with. It wasn't cool for Dining Services to pull the proverbial rug out from under the university community. And it's definitely not cool to advertise that a version of the buffalo chicken wrap will be available to students, when one of the best aspects of customizing one's own wrap was putting a signature flavorful flair on the deli classic.
Perhaps most problematic is the elimination of takeout. The move has led to hungry students and long lines outside the dining halls during lunch and dinner hours. For students with off-campus internships or a brief 15 minutes between classes, this is a huge problem. Students can no longer eat on the go nor prep for days off campus, which means most will likely not eat — or cash out at some of the pricier College Park food franchises — if they can't obtain a meal quickly and efficiently.
Green Tidings' indefinite closure also limits students' food options, directing them toward the dining halls and their aforementioned long lines or the new Q Truck on Route 1, which also attracts multitudes of students and serves as an added expense.
The core aspects of Anytime Dining — its unlimited meals and healthier choices — have students' best interests at heart, but the problems that arise with limited takeout coupled with fewer on-the-go options have led to what could be a dining disaster.