Mixed thoughts, sustainability concerns on dining during Wildcat Wellness


Angeli Mittal/Daily Senior Staffer

Dining hall sign displays new guidelines around dining during Wildcat Wellness. Instead of eating food in the dining halls, students must take food to go.

Joanna Hou, Copy Editor

As students move back on campus for the start of Winter Quarter, Wildcat Wellness dining restrictions pose new challenges for some and unexpected benefits for others. 

Northwestern Dining made several adjustments to food options and service for the two-week quarantine period, including only offering to-go food and closing all salad bars. Dining hall staff also serve students as opposed to the traditional self-serve model. 

Bienen freshman Josephine Chou said she prefers to pick and choose her own food, but that isn’t possible during Wildcat Wellness.  

“It’s harder to control how much food you want to take because you aren’t the one that’s serving yourself,” Chou said. “If there’s a dish that contains multiple vegetables and there’s a vegetable that you don’t like, you can’t really pick that out by yourself.”

Chou said Fall Quarter options were more appetizing to her. She added the current food being served at Sargent Hall — such as “cheeseless mac and cheese” — is subpar to NU’s usual quality. 

Others, like Weinberg sophomore Lucy Garberg, struggle with the limited options. Garberg said some of her go-to healthy options, like salad and grilled chicken, aren’t available in the dining halls. 

Even if she found food she wanted, Garberg said the containers were impractical. The plastic cereal container she used for breakfast was too small to hold a normal portion, and she couldn’t find a heat-friendly cup for oatmeal. She added the single-use packaging is wasteful. 

“I think the (reusable to-go) containers are a good idea because they are a lot more sustainable,” Garberg said. 

Weinberg freshman Sara Azimipour said she hopes NU will make some sustainable policy changes for its dining halls. She suggested the University allow students to bring their own reusable containers to reduce the amount of waste. 

Sustainability concerns are not Azimipour’s only problem with her dining experience. She said she also misses the social aspect of dining. The absence of meals with friends only adds to the isolation of Wildcat Wellness, Azimipour said. 

“Sometimes, you go to the dining hall by yourself and see someone you know, and you can sit down and talk to them. It’s much more social when you’re in person,” Azimipour said. “Now, you just have to go back to your room…everyone is by themselves and lonely.”

Garberg, who lives in a single dorm, also said she misses normal socialization. Typically, she goes out to restaurants and does other in-person activities with friends, but Wildcat Wellness guidelines restrict these options. 

Chou agreed that socializing is more difficult, but said she still grabs food with her friends in the dining hall to preserve parts of the social experience. 

However, some find that to-go meals improve their social lives. McCormick freshman Izzy Huang said he prefers this option over the classic sit-down experience as grabbing meals to-go gives him more time to enjoy eating with friends.

“It really allows me to spend more time with my close friends because we’re not rushing from one class to another,” Huang said, “It actually allows me to have an opportunity to strengthen that bond with my friends.” 

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Twitter: @joannah_11

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