Why the main cafeteria is closed

Low+student+enrollment+and+staffing+has+caused+the+main+cafeteria+to+close+at+2+p.m.+Students+taking+classes+have+been+struggling+to+find+food+on+campus

Sam Guzman

Low student enrollment and staffing has caused the main cafeteria to close at 2 p.m. Students taking classes have been struggling to find food on campus

Fatima Zarco Gomez, Reporter

Santa Rosa Junior College’s main cafeteria closed in March 2020 and has yet to reopen as students return to campus this fall. 

SRJC President, Dr. Frank Chong, said the loss of profit is to blame. “It’s an economic issue, because Fresh and Natural was having a hard time making a profit when we had everybody here and now we only have two-thirds of our students back,” Dr. Chong said. Fresh and Natural is SRJC’s vendor for food services. 

Due to the closure, students are struggling to find food options on campus. Currently, the only food students can purchase on campus after 2 p.m. is from the vending machines located in Barnett Hall. 

“I think that it is difficult for me and other fellow students to find food on campus,” said SRJC student Yulissa Moreno. “Our breaks between classes are so short and not all of us have cars or want to risk losing their parking spot to go purchase food off campus to eat between classes.” 

However, other students do not find the closure of the main cafeteria to be a burden, as they do not have many classes on campus to keep them here. Since the pandemic, more classes are online making it easier for students to stay home or only take a few classes on campus. 

“Sometimes I don’t really want to leave campus. It’s better to just do it here; it’s easier, it’s faster,” said Alex Cambron Padilla, an SRJC freshman. “Since the lack of variety of food, I do have to leave campus sometimes. It’s not too big of a deal, but if I had classes scheduled closer, I probably wouldn’t be able to eat.”

Jenny Chhay, food service manager of the Bertolini building, said the main cafeteria is not open due to employment issues and she is working with what she has. 

“Most of our employees left us after COVID,” Chhay said. “So as of right now, we’re starting from scratch and we’re rehiring and retraining and trying to get that grill back up for you guys.” 

Chhay is aiming to open the main cafeteria by Nov. 2. Concerning hours of operation, Chhay said, “If we can have our staff stay longer, then we can definitely extend hours, but I’m thinking if we open the grill, it’s going to be from 10:30 until 2 p.m. or even 3 p.m.”

Aside from the main cafeteria, the Bear’s Den Cafe on the Elliott Avenue side of Bertolini, is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, but closes at 12:30 p.m. on Fridays. 

The Bear’s Den sells a variety of hot and cold food and assorted drinks such as coffee and boba. New additions, such as veggie spring rolls, have just been added to the menu.

Jenny Chhay, food service manager of the Bertolini building, hopes to reopen the cafeteria by Nov. 2, but are in the process of finding and training new staff. (Sam Guzman)