Grilled chicken thigh halal, cheese pizza, and penne pasta with Milano sauce — for Penn State students living in the dorms this semester, these items have become everyday menu options when it comes to deciding on what to eat.
Many of the usual go-to places to eat, are either closed for the semester or have significantly shortened hours compared to the previous years. For example, Redifer commons in South Halls has placed many restrictions and limitations on serving food. In A Pickle, a student favorite in previous years for their paninis, sandwiches, and wraps, are no longer serving paninis. Many of the food stands are only offering mobile pickup. Students must place their orders online through the Penn State Go app. The hours have also significantly been cut down.
Another big change has been the stopped usage of Green2Go containers. In previous years, students had the option to purchase these environment-friendly containers that could be reused and recycled for meals. However, the commons have now shifted to using one-time usage plastic utensils, and styrofoam containers.
“The food this year compared to the previous years is undesirable. In the last 2 weeks, a few other ‘restaurants’ in Redifer have opened, but with very limited options. Why can’t I get my sandwich toasted at In A Pickle? I’ll never know,” Sophia Melocchi, a junior studying civil engineering, said.
The buffet, however, is what has Penn State students talking. The infamous everyday menu has been the topic of various tweets, posts, and TikToks. The grilled chicken thigh halal, cheese pizza, and penne pasta with Milano pasta never fails to make an appearance on the menu almost every day.
“The buffet has essentially no variety. I even found a bug inside of my salad once, and the chicken thigh is downright atrocious,” said Noah South, a sophomore chemical engineering student.
“The grilled chicken thigh halal is a ‘staple’ for Penn State foods… I have no idea why. I’m a junior this year, and I have never ever had it,” Melocchi said.
The lack of variety and quality when it comes to the dining commons has proven to be a challenge for students like South and Melocchi, as they are finding themselves spending money to eat out more. Cooking meals in a small dorm room with just a microwave is a challenge in itself. However, ordering food from downtown seems to be the only option.
“I eat out about 2-3 times per week, which is way more than I have in the previous years. Sometimes, I’ll completely skip a meal because I do not want to keep spending my money on food downtown, but I am honestly sick of the food on campus.” Melocchi said.
How are you coping with dining hall repeats? Tweet us @VALLEYmag and let us know your tips and tricks!