Limited dining options over break could worsen food insecurity for students

November 28, 2021

Illustration by Deborah Han

Dining hall closures have left students staying on campus over Thanksgiving break with scarce accessible meal options for the holiday weekend. 

From Wednesday, Nov. 24 until Sunday, Nov. 28, all Hoya Hospitality locations operated with modified hours. Beginning on Thanksgiving, Epicurean was the only available dining option available to students. However, plenty of students remained on campus, among them international students and members of the Georgetown Scholars Program, and the restricted access to dining options has raised issues of food insecurity. Given that Epicurean requires flex dollars, students worry about being able to find affordable food options. 

To address the needs of students in part, Leo J. O’Donovan dining hall offered a grab-and-go Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday, Epicurean provided a similar option to students who registered on Thursday and the Corp offered another dining option on Friday at its Hilltoss location.

Many students still felt blindsided by the closures and the lack of communication from the university about plans for food security over the break. Alivia Castor (SFS ’25) shared her frustration with how the university did not communicate with students about its plans to close Leos. 

“The transparency is so bad. The way that there’s just hundreds of students that are just not having solid meals now, and it was such an abrupt thing that we just didn’t know,” Castor said. 

Other services on campus have tried to fill in the gaps, not just over one holiday, but to combat the persistent food insecurity some Georgetown students face. The Corp has partnered with Hoya Hub, a food pantry overseen by the Division of Student Affairs, and Students Advancing Food Equity (SAFE) and Georgetown Mutual Aid have both stepped in to support students.

Hoya Hub will be stocked and available to students over the break and is located in Leavey 418. Anthony Garcia (COL ’23), one of the student volunteers who stock the pantry, said he hopes that students will make use of the pantry should they need it over the break. 

“I think people should tell their friends. Take what you need. I think it should be a safe space,” Garcia said. 

SAFE will also be providing food support to students over the break. Madison Dyer (NHS ’22) described how the organization has been expanding its efforts lately to meet the increased need of students.  

“We have recently really amped up our rescuing capacities. The fridge has been so full,” Dyer said. 

Despite these efforts, demand for support is still high. Georgetown Mutual Aid, which relies on community donations to fund itself, has only been able to provide financial and other forms of support to students while its form remains open. 

“I went on to be like, okay, maybe I’ll ask for 20 bucks to try to get some groceries, and it was closed,” Castor said. “So if they’re already at their limit and that’s Monday, I don’t suspect them being open for the rest of the week.”

The demand for aid currently outmatches the donations they are receiving, leaving students who reach out for support in a difficult position. 

While closing dining halls over holidays provides a necessary day off for university food service workers, the administration’s lack of any guidance or alternative means of getting food creates an environment where more students will face food insecurity. Frequently, colleges and universities provide stipends to students staying on campus during breaks, making dining out or purchasing groceries more affordable.

Castor expressed her disappointment with the university and how it handled these issues over Thanksgiving break. 

“It’s just really unfortunate out of a school who prides itself on, oh, ‘Jesuit values’ and caring for yourself as a whole person, but then they aren’t caring for their populace, or all the people in their populace, which includes international students, students who can’t afford plane rides home,” Castor said.

Megan O'Malley
Megan is a junior majoring in American Studies with a Government minor. She has previously acted as the Voice's Business Manager and is a compulsory thrift shopper.

Franzi Wild
Franzi Wild is a junior in the SFS and the news editor. She likes the natural world, Arabic verb forms, and kindness. She dislikes institutions and the people who protect them.

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