By Patrick Tindall
Greasy pizza slices, sad chicken fingers and cold, dead fries.
Some students have called it “gas station food,” others have called it flat-out “garbage.” Some students refuse to eat at the cafeteria altogether due to dietary restrictions or allergies.
Riverside City College’s City Grill has been the subject of many student’s mealtime ire when it comes to getting nutritious foods in between classes.
“It’s whack,” RCC student Jamie Tran-Vo said. “It’s not fresh. The fries are not fresh and sometimes the chicken tenders are old.”
When students walk into the cafeteria they are greeted by a wall of pre-packaged danishes and muffins like the kind you would find in a 7-11, as well as a salad bar.
“The salad bar is very limited,” RCC student Stella Rocha said. “I would like to see more fruit options, that way if I didn’t want a quesadilla or chicken strips, I could get something from there.”
If you are vegetarian, vegan or have another kind of dietary restriction, such as allergies, you can forget about lunch on campus.
“I have a friend who has a dairy allergy mixed with something else,” Rocha said. “She can’t even eat here, all she can get is water.”
The funny thing is, this isn’t the first time Viewpoints has covered the lack of nutritional lunches being served at the cafeteria.
As far back as Aug. 6, 2007, student journalists Jessica Santibanez and Amber Richard wrote in an article called “Food selections lacking in Tiger’s Den cafeteria.”
“RCC cafeteria and Tiger’s Den must still regard students as small children by the items they choose to serve: pizza, french fries, nachos, corn dogs.”
This just happens to be the same kind of food that is still served today in the cafeteria, nearly 12 years later.
If you’re in a rush, starving between classes and for some reason, craving those chicken fingers, it may not be a quick errand.
As recently as March 26, 2015, the Viewpoints editorial staff published an op-ed which timed how long it could take to get food and that it can take students up to “24 minutes and 31 seconds to order a quesadilla during a lunch rush.”
This is by far an outstanding amount of time for a greasy quesadilla considering most students are just trying to get something decent in between classes with no other options in the nearby neighborhood.
Most students settle for prepackaged foods, like the wrapped pita sandwiches or jello cups as they may actually be healthier and quicker options for students than what is served up to them in the hot cases.
RCC does bring in outside vendors to campus occasionally in the form of food trucks, but these aren’t a regular occurance.
In fact, the popularity of these food trucks can be distracting because the lines are just as long waiting for a Miguel Jr.’s burrito from a vendor as it is waiting in line for stale pizza.
Not to mention the fact that there is a non-compete agreement in effect with the outsourced food vendors which are required to not serve the same foods as the City Grill.
The positive aspect of this is that the vendors do not take away the money that the City Grill would use to pay it’s employees. However, such agreements are used by large corporations to create monopoly on the items that they produce.
The City Grill’s website is pretty misleading as well. It features stock photos of fancy plates of fresh spaghetti, english muffins and fresh fruit bowls being served by a man in a high-end chef coat, none of which is actually served here on campus.
“They should open up a food court or something,” Tran-Vo said. “We just need more options.”
Students crave variety. The fact that the closest thing to campus is Carl’s Jr. or Jack in the Box which are still nearly two miles away in either direction is also a nuisance, considering parking on campus is always terrible.
However, there seems to be some change on the horizon in the right direction. Food services director Cheryl Ruzak said that there will be changes coming to the City Grill over the summer.
“We are looking at the menu and hoping to add some new truly vegan and vegetarian options for students,” Ruzak said. “Students can look forward to the new menu items next fall.”
RCC definitely has some work to do when it comes to providing healthy food options to it’s students. Here’s hoping that in the fall we can look forward to some new changes.