By Fatoumata Traore and Ilvea Lezama
York College has been without a cafeteria since 2019. Pandora’s Box has reported several times the reason behind the shutting of it. The reason was due to the multiple sightings of mice, roaches, poor plumbing, and 51 health violations. Ever since the food options on campus have been very limited to the Hungry for Knowledge Food Pantry located by the Women’s Center on the third floor of the Academic Core building. “In my experience with managing the Hungry for Knowledge Food Pantry, I will say that food insecurity on our campus, and in the larger surrounding community, remains high,” said Ebony Jackson, the director of the Women’s Center. “We’ve seen more and more newcomers to the pantry while maintaining our repeat visitors.” She added that more food options, including hot food on campus, is essential and she is ecstatic to hear about the pending selection of a vendor and the re-opening of the cafeteria.
Another food/snack option is the vending machines around campus with their various unhealthy options and the overpriced Starbucks Café. Many also bring food from home and use the unsanitary microwaves on the ground floor.
“Me and my sister bring food from home, and when I forget my food I can’t get anything from the café as everything has dairy and I am Lactose intolerant,” said Irene La Spisa, an English Major.
Last semester, students and faculty members were hopeful about the arrival of another food option which offered pizza, subs, beef patties, and more. Ordering was made easy and convenient, people just had to scan the QR code, and their order would be ready for pick up within 10 minutes. On Oct. 12, at the State of the College Address, President Berenecea Eanes was asked about what happened to the food service, she said she would have to check as she was not aware. Claudio Lindow, the Interim Vice President of Finance and Administration explained that the existing food option was just “a trial.”
In March of 2023, Pandora’s Box reported about the request made by Eanes for $6 million from Queens Borough President Donovan Richards in a community budget request hearing. At the State of the College Address, she said the funds were given for the physical renovations of the cafeteria. Now the question is when will the renovations start?
A food-tasting invite was extended to some students and faculty members to partake in the ongoing process for possible vendors/finalists to serve in the future cafeteria. “Before the spring semester a vendor should be selected and operating the cafeteria with many options like Halal food,” Lindow said.
In the past, food trucks have temporarily been placed in front of the school, which has been helpful for students who do not want to get out of school premises when they are limited on time. Food truck options were not permanent solutions, and the issue is persistent. Students will feel more inclined to walk to Jamaica Avenue to buy food under $7 than spend over $10 at the café.
Jamaica Avenue is not always the safest area, with numerous alerts going out to students about suspicious activity at least once a week. “Jamaica Ave. is not the safest place but with no cafeteria on site it is our only option, and the café is too overpriced,” said Drachard Jenkinson, a Political Science and pre-law major.
A functioning cafeteria would drastically make things easier for everyone at York College. As of right now the cafeteria remains shut down and abandoned.