The University of Maryland’s 251 North Dining Hall is currently about 25 percent busier, on average, than in September 2022, according to Dining Services spokesperson Bart Hipple.
251 North — located in the Denton Community — has lower traffic compared to other dining halls on campus and features an allergy-free Purple Zone, Maryland Dairy and a Halal station, which opened this fall. Dining Services changed the dining hall’s menu this year and upgraded the smashburger and ice cream station. Hipple said these developments have contributed to more hand swipes.
“I just feel like it’s an overlooked dining hall,” Jake Middleton, a sophomore enrolled in letters and sciences and the Resident Hall Association’s dining services coordinator, said. “In my personal opinion, it’s the best one.”
Some students enjoy how “lowkey” 251 North is and prefer its quiet environment over Yahentamitsi Dining Hall, which is busier, Middleton said.
According to data obtained by The Diamondback, Yahentamitsi accounted for more than half the total number of hand swipes in fall 2022. 251, however, made up only 14 percent of the total swipes.
“I don’t really like it when all the dining halls are really full,” sophomore aerospace engineering major Pearl Uva said. “It’s nice to not be arm-to-arm with people when you’re eating.”
The quiet environment of 251 North helps sophomore chemical engineering major Paola Ruiz “refresh” after a long day of classes.
Paola said one of her favorite foods at 251 North is the salad bar because of its wide variety of options.
Junior mechanical engineering major Leuel Belayneh lives in Oakland Hall and said the dining hall’s proximity to his dorm is one of its attractive features. Belayneh also said the layout of the dining hall is easier to maneuver since it’s not as crowded.
Hipple believes 251 North’s location is the main cause of its low traffic.
“This is a huge campus,” Hipple said. “251 is not on the way to anything except for people who live in the Denton Community.”
Freshman chemical engineering major Ava Monroe thinks 251 North’s food options are more limited than the other dining halls.
“I don’t really think that the food is worse. I think it just has less options,” Monroe said.
According to Middleton, the RHA is brainstorming ideas with Dining Services to increase traffic at 251 North, such as changing the ice cream flavors, adding more vegetarian options and having live bands play.
“We’re just trying to figure out a way where people will see the happiness and joy…that is 251,” Middleton said.