Food critique between Ocean Campus and Laney Campus

By Barbara Muniz and Jasmine Howell

 

The meal options available at college campuses can make or break the student experience because students need food. Laney College and City College of San Francisco have students on campus at many times of day, and it can be a struggle to find healthy or complete meal options.

 

Food supply available in both campus

Laney College has three different food venues on campus, which include: the student center cafeteria, The Bistro and the bookstore. At Laney College, the main cafeteria is opened from 8:00 a.m., until 12:45 p.m. Breakfast burrito, scrambled eggs, hash brown potatoes and even vegetarian patties are part of the menu. From closing time until 2:00 p.m., hot drinks, snacks, yogurt and energy bars are for sale. After 5:30 pm, students like Santiago M., a biology major, goes downstairs, where the bookstore is located, for a bite to eat, ‘food not so healthy’, as he claims about this second food option. However, Laney College just extended its hours of operation to serve students whose classes are later in the day, including some catered options like burgers. Michael Payette, a machine technology major, grabbed his grilled burger after 5:30 p.m., taking advantage of the new cafeteria late opening hours.

In this regard, Howell noted about the dynamic of having something healthy to eat in a timely manner, ‘if you are on a time constraint in between lectures, the colleges large-windy facility seems to pose a problem in sourcing food in a reasonable amount of time, and more importantly, the campus lacks adequate access to quick healthy selections.”

For those willing to indulge themselves in a more home cooked style meal, Laney bistro, facing a lake and an organic garden (that provides produce for the diner), offers items such as salads, and burgers, to pan seared salmon filet. Its prices are pretty similar to the main cafeteria – from 6 dollars for a salad to 11 dollars for a salmon dish. Its doors are opened from Monday through Friday from 11:45 a.m., until 1:00 p.m.

 

The Laney bookstore and Ocean campus bookstore

As aforementioned, at the bottom floor of the Laney cafeteria mingles snacks, soups and other quick bites with school materials. Cherine J, a nursing major, updated The Guardsman: “I eat in the cafeteria but it’s cheaper to get a bite to eat in the bookstore.” Its open hours are Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., except on Friday, when it closes at 2:00 p.m. Ocean campus bookstore has assorted salads, sandwiches and packed foods (Monday – Thursday 7:45 a.m. – 7 pm and on Friday until 4pm). During the beginning of the semester, the store opens on some Saturdays too. Despite the constant claims that both schools don’t offer health alternatives, Ron, a team member at the bookstore, said: “They [students] buy the food from here because it’s cheaper and no one complains about it.”

City College has four main food facilities: City Slice, Lunch box, and the Swell food cart along with vending machines installed at different buildings around the campus.

 

Access to food areas

Through a broad, well-paved cemented surface, students can source food at Laney College within 3 to 5 minutes walk. At City College, however, it takes much longer to ….

“When I was a student here, it was more efficient both cost-wise and logistically to bring your own food,” Jose Zimmirano, former student, said. The student lounges on campuses exhibited a fair amount of students doing just that.

“Stacked microwaves and a health food vending machine adorned the room. The food container accepted both cash and card, and spewed out options such as fruit juices, fresh salads, yogurt, and meat jerky strips – to name a few- all at affordable price.” And added to her conclusion that “Plastic tarps replaced the entrance of the City Cafe that was also in the student lounge. The facility seemed to be closed for renovation; however, I am unaware of how long it had been closed or will remain out of operation; yet, the smell of Ramen replaced the Cafes absence, which seemed to be the typical choice of cuisine as the aroma plagued the walls and students sat enjoying their home brought meals.”

Howell continued with her perception, “Onward, the stairs, and pavement overlapped like noodles in endless streams, and only seemed to taunt my tummy, as the incline built my hunger and put me on a mission for food of my own, but nothing seemed to quite appeal to my appetite.”

 

Hours when food is available

“Food may be hard to come across if you have midday or evening classes at City College Ocean Campus, because the main facility known as City Slice closes its doors at 1:15 pm and the cafeteria closes at 1:30 pm to open again for a short period of time with dinner options available from 5-6:30pm.” Howell said.

At Laney College, the main cafeteria is opened from 8:00 a.m., until 12:45 p.m. Breakfast burrito, scrambled eggs, hash brown potatoes and even vegetarian patties are part of the menu. From closing time until 2:00 p.m., hot drinks, snacks, yogurt and energy bars are for sale. After 5:30 pm, students like Santiago M., a biology major, goes downstairs, where the bookstore is located, for a bite to eat, ‘food not so healthy’, as he claims about this second food option. However, Laney College just extended its hours of operation to serve students whose classes are later in the day, including some catered options like burgers. Michael Payette, a machine technology major, grabbed his grilled burger after 5:30 p.m., taking advantage of the new cafeteria late opening hours.

In this regard, Howell noted about the dynamic of having something healthy to eat in a timely manner, ‘if you are on a time constraint in between lectures, the colleges large-windy facility seems to pose a problem in sourcing food in a reasonable amount of time, and more importantly, the campus lacks adequate access to quick healthy selections.”

Healthy issues go beyond packed meals as Laney college had to close its main cafeteria for two days in a row, as Kandice Moore, a Cosmetology major, updated Muniz on Dec, 5, “Yes, when I arrived here today, I saw a sign that they had to close the cafeteria due to no hot water.” Her words were confirmed by the cafeteria manager Scott Strong, “Due to health code, we can’t make food here. The control panel that manages the boiler needs to be repaired and hopefully by Thursday it will be back to normal.”

 

More acres, more food option at Ocean campus

A second option a few minute walk outside the student lounge put us on the path towards the Lunch Box, located close to Batmale Hall, which offered a diverse selection, from breakfast items, to Asian inspired dishes, pizza, hot dogs, sandwiches and pastries, as Howell reported. Adding that “The price range for food items – from packaged snacks and bottled beverages – was between $2.50 and $12.00, which seemed reasonable; although this establishment closed for service at 7 pm, making options yet again difficult for night students.”

To comply with the vast area of Ocean campus, Swell food cart is also on campus and opens from 8am-1pm, and there were quite a few students lined up for food compared to some of the other vendors, yet they only offered coffee and baked goods; however, the 5-minute walk to another coffee shop that seemed to appeal to the student body more effervescently was Philz coffee, as Howell observed. However, if your classes are deeper into the campus, such length of time may increase. Its closing is at 7pm.

 

An augmented service with style

For those willing to indulge themselves in a more home cooked style meal, Laney bistro, facing a lake and an organic garden (that provides produce for the diner), offers items such as salads, and burgers, to pan seared salmon filet. Its prices are pretty similar to the main cafeteria – from 6 dollars for a salad to 11 dollars for a salmon dish. Its doors are opened from Monday through Friday from 11:45 a.m., until 1:00 p.m. City College Pierre Coste Chef’s Table offers salads, hot meals with prices varying within $6 to $15. With a tight opening hour from 11:15 a.m. until 12:30 during the week – this establishment is run by the culinary department where students who are cook, also maintain service as the servers at the restaurant.

 

Extra food but not officially connected to school schedule – Apart from the three food venues in the East Bay College, there are three different food trucks surrounding the boundaries of the school premises: A purple mexican food truck, a small truck with fruits, muffin and packaged snacks, and a third one in the journey from Lake Merritt BART station and Fallon Street complement the alternative options. Apart from the food trucks, within a 2-minute walk, Kefa cafe serves breakfast items like espresso and pastries; competing in the same 8th street with a chinese donut store. Going a bit further from Laney school, a nice lake invites comers with restaurants like Terrace Room where breakfast is served, Peruvian Tambo, Belly with affordable burgers, mexican and Asian fusion. John Reager, music instructor knows the 13 minute walking route: “I went all the way to Lake Merritt for a bite to eat as I love tacos.”

While it seems a great option to walk a few yards to enjoy nice treats by the  food trucks, it can bring some surprises as it has no commitment with the school. For instance, last Wednesday, Nov. 22, the Laney college purple food truck wasn’t there. Possibly, due to Thanksgiving Day approaching but whichever reason, it creates a gap in the food service feasibility.  The same inconsistency was noticed in regards to City College, as the food truck D’Maize by the MUB parking lot was closed on Wednesday, 11/29, and there was no sign updating clients if it would open.

 

Well established food premises not so far away from school

Thanks to immigrants heritage, a multi-ethnic gastronomic pool surrounds Ocean campus, as it was reported, “The restaurants circling Phelan Street, which is adjacent to Ocean Campus, included McDonald’s, Beep’s Burgers (10am – 10pm), Quan Pho Viet (10am-9pm)-a Vietnamese noodle house  Pokihub (10:30am-9pm)-a Japanese seafood operation, and Pakwan (10:30-10pm)-a Halal Indian and Pakistani joint, and lastly, Whole Foods, a 5 to 10 minute walk from Ocean Campus.

As per Laney College, if one feels depleted from a variety of ethnic food, on Fridays a line of food trucks by 10th Street sels from taco to some popular Asian treat.  Not to mention the nice scenery of Lake Merritt with a variety of food options to all palates.

Student Darren Owen, a computer science major, seems ready to enjoy his Laney College main cafeteria grilled burger on Nov 29, 2017. (Photo by Barbara Muniz)
Student Darren Owen, a computer science major, seems ready to enjoy his Laney College main cafeteria grilled burger on Nov 29, 2017. (Photo by Barbara Muniz)

 

Laney college journalism instructor Scott Strains seems happy to see potato croquette as part of the manu that Laney College main cafeteria serves on Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Barbara Muniz)
Laney college journalism instructor Scott Strains seems happy to see potato croquette as part of the manu that Laney College main cafeteria serves on Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Barbara Muniz)

 

Student Hernandez and culinary student Jabari Shaw under the attentive eyes of another Laney college student Monique Miles. Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Barbara Muniz)
Student Hernandez and culinary student Jabari Shaw under the attentive eyes of another Laney college student Monique Miles. Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Barbara Muniz)