The J cafeteria entry way following the 6 ft apart arrows into the dining area, sept 14 | Photo by Becca Laurenson

Students are dining in during the COVID-19

Students survive COVID-19 by cooking for themselves and avoiding college cafeteria
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Students survive COVID-19 by cooking for themselves and avoiding college cafeteria

Whether they live on or off-campus this semester, students are facing new challenges in just about everything they do and dining is no exception. Meal plans are offered to students living on the campus at a steep price, but this semester students have resorted to cooking for themselves.

Humboldt State University botany major, Zeen Vincent, purchased a mini-meal plan but finds cooking in his dorm more affordable and enjoyable.

“It’s just easier to cook at home and just buy groceries once a week than it is to go out and eat all the time.” Vincent said.

Although the pandemic has turned trips to the grocery store into an uncomfortable mission, Vincent hasn’t allowed it to affect him much. When he does prepare food, it’s often raw ingredient based meals or snacks.

“I’ve been making a lot of sandwiches,” Vincent said. “I am making burgers tonight so that’s kind of special. I usually don’t eat that on a daily basis.”

HSU freshman, Jesse Barragan, lives on campus and has the green meal plan which is recommended for students who plan to cook on the weekends. Barragan eats at the J cafeteria weekly but is forced to occasionally cook when the J lacks in vegan options.

“Sometimes for dinner they may not have a lot of options,” Barragan said. “Maybe like a few sautéed squash and rice but usually it is good.”

With more vegan and vegetarian options than most places, Barragan is able to eat well on a budget. Barragan’s meals involve easy-cooking in his dorm kitchen, using mostly veggies and produce.

“Lately I’ve been eating a lot of potatoes, squash, tomatoes and salads,” Barragan said.

Although most students who came back to campus moved in at the end of Aug., HSU junior Vanessa Odom, stayed to pursue a work opportunity on campus.

“There were no dining services,” Odom said. “The J and everything closed back in March after spring break.”

Odom discovered they could acquire free food from the Oh SNAP! program. Receiving mostly raw foods, Odom took the opportunity to sharpen their cooking skills.

“I really enjoy cooking for myself,” Odom said. “Obviously it’s a life skill to have and I’ve learned a lot about different kinds of cooking.”

Richard Shilts is a sophomore at HSU and has a job at Domino’s Pizza in Eureka. He applied shortly after moving back to Humboldt and has been working as a delivery driver since July.

“I work just about every day of the week,” Shilts said. “I work about 30 hours. I was working like 40 before school started.”

Shilts’ main concern is work interfering with his education but the job pays too well to quit. Unfortunately, Shilts puts up with customers that are unwilling to abide by COVID-19 protocol, putting himself at a powerless, higher risk of getting sick.

“I can’t do anything about it,” Shilts said. “I just have to deliver to them.”

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