More students than seats in cafeteria

The glamour of the new renovations of the cafeteria in the Student Services Center has worn off for some students because there is not adequate seating. The renovation project started in May and was completed in July.

“We mostly have to get here as soon as lunch or dinner starts because if we don’t, there are no seats and we have to wait until somebody leaves to sit and eat,” said Dominique Price, 18, a first-year business administration from Chicago.

The cafeteria seats over 550 students, however all 2,000 freshmen are required to have meal plans provided by the university, said dining services employee Chloe Davis.

“We try to accommodate all the students that eat here,” Davis said. “That’s why we try to have so many choices of eateries for the students to choose from.”

University Food Services provides several alternatives from the main cafeteria for students, including: the equivalency meal plan options from campus retailers like Pizza Hut, KFC Express, Rattler’s Nest and the FAMU Deli.

“I  love the idea of the Flex Bucks because when the cafeteria is too crowded, I can just go downstairs, get my food and go back to my room,” said Ladonna Gaines, 20, a second-year elementary education from Ft. Lauderdale.  “It takes away all the hassle from waiting in long lines in the cafeteria.”

Not all students feel like the alternative eateries are sufficient since meal plans only come with a limited amount of Flex Bucks per semester.

“I have a 19 meal a week plan so I really have to eat in the cafeteria, unless I want to spend my personal money,” said Elise Roland, 18, a first-year general education from Miami.  “I feel like there should be enough seating for everyone, and the lines should not be so long.”

Davis said the dining services staff is working to expedite service to students, but are overwhelmed by all the students.

She advises students to schedule specific times when coming to the dining hall.

“Lunch begins at 11 a.m. and we have the biggest rush at noon,” Davis said.  “So the best time to come when there are less lines is around 11 a.m. when lunch first begins or 1:00 p.m. when things kind of clear out.”

She also advises that students come a little earlier to eat or an hour before dinner is over. That way, students still have time to eat and the crowd is thinning out.

“I don’t think there is anything the staff can really do about the crowds because we all have to eat and they can’t help that there is so many of us to serve,” said Kyle Toggle, 21, a fourth-year English student from Tampa.

Toggle has a meal plan and eats lunch between his afternoon classes.

“It is crowded in the café during lunch time, but I think that’s because [there are] a lot more freshmen than [there] used to be,” Toggle said.