Food insecurity should not be a campus reality. But O’Donovan Hall’s restrictive hours and closure during breaks leaves those dependent on the university for food desperately searching for affordable meals.
To reduce food insecurity on campus and allow students to use the meal plans they paid for, Hoya Hospitality must expand the operating hours of locations that accept meal swipes during weekends and remain open over breaks.
Last semester, the dining hall reinstituted “Late Night Leo’s,” extending its closing hours for the downstairs buffet Fresh Food Company from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Though these extended hours are a welcome reform, they apply only between Sundays and Thursdays, abandoning students on other days.
On weekends, however, finding a meal is more challenging. All five stations located on the dining hall’s upstairs level — Sazón, Olive Branch, 5Spice, Launch and Bodega — close at 4 p.m on Friday and do not begin service again until Sunday evenings. These hours stand in sharp contrast to their 8 p.m. closing time between Mondays and Thursdays.
Though Fresh Food Company is open until 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and Royal Jacket, located in the Leavey Center, is open until 10 p.m. on Fridays, these late-night options do not adequately satisfy students’ hunger, according to April 2018 reporting from The Hoya.
The absurdly early weekend closures fails to understand the reality of a college campus. Students are not going to sleep by 8 p.m. on Saturday and often must attend meetings, work or extracurricular commitments that extend past this time.
To accommodate the busy evening schedules of students and reduce the possibility of students missing meals, Hoya Hospitality should expand meal-swipe location hours until 11 p.m every day of the week.
Though on-campus restaurants Epicurean and Company and Bulldog Tavern are available after Leo’s closes, these locations do not accept meal swipes and burden those on a restricted budget.
If students are paying the exorbitant cost of meal plans – a requirement for freshmen and sophomores living in residential halls – they should have access to campus dining that meets the needs of college life.
Moreover, the university should open all of its meal-swipe-accepting locations over breaks in the academic semester, such as Thanksgiving or spring breaks.
Currently, all students unable to leave campus are burdened with finding their own food sources. For students unable to afford groceries or eat out, food insecurity is inevitable.
While Georgetown Scholars Program offers a grocery stipend aimed at alleviating food insecurity, the stipend can only cover GSP students; other students with financial need are left to anxiously scrounge for a solution.
Though Hoya Hub — an on-campus food pantry that offers free, nonperishable items to any member of the Georgetown community — is a critical student-led initiative, the university should also support campus efforts to reduce food insecurity over breaks and keep meal-swipe options open.
In expanding service at its meal-swipe locations, Hoya Hospitality should not simply slap on Late Night Leo’s service as a solution. Though Late Night Leo’s partially meets student demand for extended hours at meal-swipe locations, its menu has thus far failed to provide a filling and nutritional meal.
In restricting hours at upstairs Leo’s — key locations which are vital to meeting students’ dietary restrictions — the university fails to meet the diverse needs that drove the dining hall’s renovation.
O’Donovan Hall was renovated in 2017 to increase variety for students with dietary restrictions, according to associate vice president for auxiliary services Joelle Wiese. Instead of the previous single vegan station, the new upstairs level would allow for diverse options at every location, according to Wiese.
Instead of relegating students with unique demands to the chicken strips and limp green beans at Late Night Leo’s, Georgetown should extend all of its meal-swipe location hours — including upstairs Leo’s.
To signal that it prioritizes student health over profit, Hoya Hospitality management must expand Leo’s hours, despite any costs associated with hiring more staff or overtime salaries.
Keeping students healthy is a foundational expectation of a university, and providing meals at reasonable hours is critical in fulfilling this aim.
Leo’s management must understand that the dining hall’s renovation is frustratingly irrelevant if its hours perpetuate food insecurity. Aesthetic lighting and vintage decor are useless if students are unable to eat.
The Hoya’s editorial board is composed of six students and chaired by the opinion editor. Editorials reflect only the beliefs of a majority of the board and are not representative of The Hoya or any individual member of the board.