Sophomore Devin Shorey spent the first few days of the semester unable to find seats in the Argos dining hall during breakfast.
Freshman Courtney Prima said she skipped a meal one day because the line to get in was too long, and said she thought waiting in it would cause her to miss class.
Around meal times on any given day, lines can be seen forming outside the Argos dining hall, Fresh Food Company. Once inside, students continue to wait as they struggle to find tables to eat at, which fill to capacity.
Shorey said during his first week of classes, he and his friends would go around the dining hall several times before finding a single seat.
“There were no tables,” he said. “After wandering for a while, we got lucky and eventually found one.”
Due to the closing of the Bulls Den Cafe this semester as part of a larger construction project to renovate the entire Andros complex, Shorey and other residents in the Andros complex are now required to look for alternative dining halls on campus — the closest of which is Fresh Food Company.
In response to questions about the influx of students to this dining hall, Marketing Manager for Dining Services Ashley Horowitz said USF Dining would only respond with an emailed statement.
“The university along with USF Dining are closely monitoring meal counts and seating availability,” she said in the email. “… Additional associates have been hired and additional menu items are prepared to make sure customers have a great experience.”
The email also described several programs students could use “to provide suggestions and feedback on a continual basis.” One program mentioned in the email was “Your Voice Counts,” a feedback initiative which was launched this semester.
“This program provides real-time consumer satisfaction feedback which is sent directly to managers,” the email stated. “Customers are encouraged to use the program through online survey and mobile device.”
The email also recommended emailing suggestions to usfdining.com.
There are also signs indicating the on-duty manager at the front of each dining location with accompanying photograph and phone number, the email stated.
Shorey said Fresh Food Company was less crowded last year, before Bulls Den was closed.
“Lines are longer this year and everyone is pretty much forced to come over to (Fresh Food Company),” he said.
In addition to the extended late night hours, the dining hall is also accommodating the additional students from the Andros area by opening seating that was previously used as a conference room to students.
After skipping a meal in the first week of the semester, Prima said she learned some tips to help avoid the crowd.
“The lines are usually long, but if I see that, I’ll usually wait and come back after class,” she said.
Prima and Shorey also said the most crowded times in the dining halls are around midnight or morning, since students like the breakfast and late-night breakfast options.
She said lines are most moderate in the afternoon between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and around 1 a.m.
Assistant Vice President for Campus Business Services Jeff Mack said in an earlier interview with The Oracle Fresh Food Company will undergo a $750,000 expansion this semester that will include the addition of 100 seats along the south side of the building.
“The enhancements going on in all the dining halls are in order to meet the needs and requests of students so that we can have an environment for people to gather on campus…,” Mack said. “We always want to respond to what the student needs are.”