University of Maryland Dining Services is not offering a takeout dining option for the first time since the spring 2020 semester, and some students are disappointed.
After a year of offering takeout to students three times a day, Dining Services has reimplemented its Anytime Dining option, which allows students to eat an unlimited amount of times at the dining halls but does not allow them to take food out.
Bart Hipple, the Dining Services spokesperson, said the limited dining and takeout option offered last year was not ideal.
“Our preferred style of service is called Anytime Dining … We believe it is better for the Terrapin community, providing community experiences in a community gathering place,” Hipple said. “It’s better for the environment, and it certainly helps us contain program costs.”
But the policy has frustrated some students, who say the policy could be detrimental to their health since dining halls are operating at full capacity, and people are maskless while eating.
Amber Stewart, a sophomore biological sciences major, said a takeout option would make her feel safer, and her first time eating in the dining hall this semester “was really kind of scary to be honest.”
The university made the decision to return to in-person dining with university, county, state and federal health regulations in mind, Hipple said.
“All of the regulatory health departments that we take the lead from … have said that indoor dining is fine and safe and people should wear masks, and that once they’re seated at a table, they can eat with their group, and then put your mask on before you stand up again,” Hipple said.
In response to the reimplementation of the Anytime Dining plan, some students have resorted to bringing their own tupperware into the dining halls and taking food with them when they leave.
While Hipple understands these students’ preferences, he said this is not allowed and raises concerns about cost, sustainability and community for the Dining Services department.
But some students say that, while they understand the value of the dining halls as a community gathering place, a takeout option would be more convenient and comfortable.
Keanu Drinkard, a freshman vocal performance major, said he has the Anytime Dining plan but only eats at the dining halls about three times a week.
“I think [takeout dining] is just more convenient for a lot of students,” Drinkard said. “Some people don’t even like eating in the dining hall. People just like to be by themselves in their room in their comfort area. I think a lot of people can benefit from that.”
Abby Bond, a sophomore bioengineering major, has 70 meals this semester and said that she misses the takeout option.
“I was talking to my friends about it too, and we all believe that takeout is much more efficient because most of us are always on the go,” Bond said.
Bond said Dining Services should understand that students are going to take food out in tupperware, even if it’s not allowed.
Students are allowed to take out either one fruit or one hand-held dessert when they leave the dining hall, Hipple said. He also said the Dining Services department currently does not have a standard for dealing with students who take food out of the dining halls, but deals with the issue “one incident at a time.”
“We hope we don’t have to create a standard,” Hipple said. “Maryland students are great and they’re smart, and they’re good people … So we want to treat them with respect, we want to trust them, we watch them. And we want them to come back.”