Cafeteria lunch gamble: Weighing price against time

An+SRJC+employee+makes+a+fresh+burrito++at+the+Santa+Rosa+cafeteria+where+students+can+choose+cuisine+from+different+world+regions.+
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Cafeteria lunch gamble: Weighing price against time

An SRJC employee makes a fresh burrito  at the Santa Rosa cafeteria where students can choose cuisine from different world regions.

An SRJC employee makes a fresh burrito at the Santa Rosa cafeteria where students can choose cuisine from different world regions.

Daniel Kong

An SRJC employee makes a fresh burrito at the Santa Rosa cafeteria where students can choose cuisine from different world regions.

Daniel Kong

Daniel Kong

An SRJC employee makes a fresh burrito at the Santa Rosa cafeteria where students can choose cuisine from different world regions.

Devin Schwarz, Assistant A&E Editor

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Imagine you’re looking for somewhere to go out for dinner. Some places are cheaper, some a little pricey, some are healthier, some a little greasy, some are pristine and some are a little grimy—what do you pick? This choice is condensed into a single room at Santa Rosa Junior College’s cafeteria.

Time and money are the two most important considerations for college students. When it comes to lunch at SRJC, the stars do not always align.

For the past week I ate at the campus cafeteria for lunch every day, sampled almost every dish it offers and came to a few conclusions. While the food quality is surprisingly sufficient, there is a serious portion deficiency and the prices are inconsistent.

When people picture school cafeterias, the most prominent images are probably cold meatloaf, half-baked pizza and sloppy-joe mystery meat. Without visiting SRJC’s cafeteria these may be the only images in your mind as well, but this simply isn’t the case here. There is a variety ranging from pizza to burritos and even Chinese food. Nothing but the customer is left half-baked and there is minimal mystery meat.

The first thing to try is the salad bar. With three choices of lettuce and a spread of toppings, there’s almost no way to go wrong. That is, unless you want a dressing other than ranch or Italian. The salad bar offers variety, but it seems these choices only cater to one basic flavor palate. Despite this, I still believe the salad bar is one of the best options in the cafeteria.

One cannot eat at SRJC without trying the seasoned curly fries. Nearly anyone who’s had them will tell you just how awesome they are. Put them next to a juicy cheeseburger, close your eyes and you’ll have no idea you’re eating at a college cafeteria.

The problem is it simply isn’t possible for someone on a student’s budget to eat at the cafeteria every day and have variety. While there are cheaper options, none of them healthy in the slightest.

The idea of having affordable and quick options for student dining is ambitious and something SRJC would be able to accomplish if it weren’t for their hiked prices and small portions. Most entrees cost $5-8 with a side and drink. A meal at the school can cost upwards of $12 and this is only for a single meal — eating breakfast and lunch and potentially a snack between your 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. class could cost you nearly $25. Multiply this by every school day in a semester and you have a bill to rival your car payments.

The cafeteria here is a mixed bag of healthy, expensive, greasy and cheap, but if you need ready-made food in a flash there really is no other choice.