Low sun, low blood sugar for night students

Vending machines only on-campus food option for night students at Pierce College Puyallup.

Photo: After 5 p.m., students can only get food on campus from the vending machines. Featured in photo: Pam Plute and Maxwell Ahlborn.
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Grace AmsdenEditor-in-Chief

One of the first questions that a new student is likely to ask once coming to Pierce College Puyallup is where food can be found.

The primary source of food is in the College Center. The bookstore sells chips, candy, instant soups and bottled drinks alongside other similar items.

For those who want cooked food made to order, there’s Lancer Hospitality. This is the college food service in the dining commons of the College Center. There’s fries, burgers, flatbread pizzas, nachos, fruit cups, pastries and burritos as well as many other items.

“We receive position feedback in our ability to provide a wide variety of sustainable locally sourced healthy option,” Susan Smith, Northwest Regional Director for Lancer, said. “Our menu provides many of the lifestyle options people are looking for at Pierce.”

On the Puyallup campus, Lancer is open from 8 a.m.- 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. After closing, snacks and drinks are offered until 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and on Friday 2 p.m.. Here, students can’t purchase all food items offered inside of the main eatery such as the hamburgers and fries.

Once 5 p.m. approaches, vending machines are the only option for students if they choose to purchase food on campus. Night classes are in session while Lancer and the bookstore are closed. These machines offer candy bars, bottled drinks and packaged snacks.

“What I think is sad is that our cafeteria is not available to a lot of students,” Outreach Manager Ruth Schindler said. “They have very limited amount of offerings of operation.” 

Student Rachel Miller has a class until about 7:45 p.m.. She usually eats before or after class, but if the need arises to eat on campus she may purchase a snack from the vending machine.

“It just depends on how hungry they (the night students) are,” Miller said regarding the selections from the vending machines. “If they’re really hungry, I don’t think a vending machine snack would cut it.”

Pierce College Puyallup President Marty Cavalluzzi is aware of the need for additional food to be offered on campus in the evening.

“Lancer closes and there really isn’t any food options at all,” Cavalluzzi said. “We have a lot of students in the evening. They need food. Somehow, we need to get food to them.”

There may be students who come to class directly after work and may not have time to eat prior to this. This has led some professors to offer energy bars to their students, Cavalluzzi said.

“If they (the students) have nothing to eat or drink, like coffee or something, they end up falling asleep in class,” Cavalluzzi said.

The Office of Student Life student leaders are also aware about the concern for food options for night students.

“During Welcome Days, we do a ‘pizza run’ for the night students,” Student Government  Vice President Maria Colocho said. “The food pantry is also available to all students at all times, so it also benefits the night students. At times, we have events that run up to 9 p.m. and there is food available for all students, as well.”

For the Pierce bookstore, floor supervisor Maxx Eastman said that the number of customers who come into the store after about 3 p.m. decreases, and extending the hours of operation for the bookstore for night students wouldn’t necessarily be beneficial to the store.

Night students should have a way to purchase snacks, through this may not be through the bookstore, Eastman said; but still, the store is open until 5 p.m. which can provide snacks ahead of time.

“If they (the night students) come, like, an hour early or just do some studying beforehand (prior to class), they do have the option to come and get snacks beforehand,” Westman said. “I feel that’s fair.”

At the Fort Steilacoom campus, Lancer is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. except on Friday, which closes at 2 p.m.. There’s also a coffee cart available Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. except on Friday when it closes at noon.

This means that the coffee is available to students longer at the Fort Steilacoom campus than the Puyallup campus. Yet, although the main eatery isn’t open in the evening, light snacks through Lancer are still provided until 5 p.m. at the Puyallup campus.

Food items available for night students should extend beyond the food from vending machines and there should at least be sandwiches and coffee available, Cavalluzzi said.

“I just picture this shiny metal cart just filled with subs stacked up high,” Cavalluzzi said.  

As the campus grows, coffee or snack carts could possibly be added on campus besides the College Center, Schindler said.

“Even though I know that from Lancer you can purchase coffee and snacks, I think there’s something fun and light about having a coffee cart,” Schindler said.

Cavalluzzi said that he’d like to look into the food available on campus including what’s inside the vending machines and considering healthier choices.   

“I would love to see a salad bar,” Cavalluzzi said. “That would be nice – where students could come through and make their own salads.”

According to the anonymous survey conducted by The Puyallup Post, seven out of 20 students said there aren’t enough food options on campus. Twelve out of 20 said there aren’t enough healthy food options.

However students obtain food on campus, it may be possible that the future of the food choices will look different for night students and more selections will be available.

“The campus is open until late at night, so we ought to have food for people,” Cavalluzzi said, “and it should be more than just vending machines.” [/responsivevoice]

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Grace Amsden
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Low sun, low blood sugar for night students

by Grace Amsden time to read: 4 min