Last Friday, UW-Madison’s Gordon Avenue Market and Four Lakes Market dining halls transitioned to an all-you-can-eat style service in light of staffing and supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Resident meal-prices are now flat entry fees of $4.99 for breakfast, $5.99 for lunch and $6.99 for dinner upon entry according to a university release. Non-resident prices have shifted to $8.31 for breakfast, $9.98 for lunch and $11.65 for dinner.
“I personally don’t like it because before when it wasn’t all-you-can-eat, it cost less for me,'' first-year student Nancy Davis said. “Now I have to pay more for the same amount of food.”
There are varying reactions to the university’s dining decision. While some students claim that they will waste food with the all-you-can-eat option, others are content with the new system’s simplicity.
“I eat a lot of food so I’d be going in there and spending a lot of money when I’d want more than what I take,” said first-year student Matthew Dudei about the original a la carte system. “I’d also feel bad if I didn't finish it, so I kind of forced myself to finish it.”
First-year student Naomi Monat reiterated Dudei’s view, explaining that she prefers the new system as she is not as concerned with how much items cost and can purchase healthier meals.
Unlike Dudei and Monat, Emma Heutmaker feels that the all-you-can-eat rate is overpriced.
“There’s a lot less pre-packaged items, which is rough," Heutmaker said. "If you’re busy between classes and don’t have time to sit down you can’t really grab stuff and go.”
Despite student concerns, these changes to dining have seriously alleviated staff. One Four Lakes staff member, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the new system makes serving all mealtimes a lot more manageable.
The dining halls also clear out much faster due to the lack of lines at the exit, said the Four Lakes’ employee, highlighting that as a result students do not have to wait in line and risk exposure to COVID-19 due to improper social distancing.
“I'm less worried about COVID now; before it was kind of nerve-wracking so I’m glad [the university] did this,” Monat said.
All of the barcoded items previously at Gordon’s and Four Lakes’ have now been moved to either the Bean & Creamery or the Flamingo Run closest to each respective dining hall. All items purchased there will not be included in the flat entry fee and will instead be made as a separate transaction on students’ WisCards or other forms of payment.