Cooking up bargains

Ruth McCullagh

Some students rely on their own devices for on-campus meals

Most students rely on on-campus cafeterias to satisfy their hunger craving, not their own cooking skills.

Credit: Steve Schirra

When class and work have ended for the day, Ebony Hawkins, senior human development and family studies major, doesn’t run to Rosie’s or the Hub for dinner.

Depending on her schedule, she instead takes her pots, pans and plates to the Centennial C kitchen and whips up a home-cooked meal.

“I usually cook on the weekends, and sometimes during the week, depending on my schedule,” Hawkins said.

She typically cooks a big meal that will last her through both lunch and dinner. By eating three times a day, she’s trying to eat healthier.

Hawkins said her mom was skeptical when she decided to drop her meal plan.

“I knew I didn’t want the food plan for my junior year,” Hawkins said. “It’s expensive. I mean, each meal is $5 to $7. I had to explain this to her.”

Hawkins said she saves money by spending her money off campus.

“If you want a box of cereal, you have to get it at Kent State’s store and that’s what, for $5?” Hawkins said. “I can go to Wal-Mart and get the same box for $2.”

Junior theatre major Melyssa Vallo said she finds it more convenient to eat at the cafeterias because she lives on campus.

“I don’t go off campus much,” Vallo said. “And since I don’t have a car, I can’t go up to Acme and get groceries.”

Vallo said cooking is more difficult because she doesn’t have room for groceries.

“I share my refrigerator with my roommate, so really I have half a mini-fridge,” Vallo said.

Valo said she thinks cooking would be healthier.

“I would actually know what would be going into the food,” said Valo. “It’s better than standing in line and getting whatever they hand me.”

Freshman technology major Mitchel Smouse said he sometimes uses his microwave to cook popcorn or soup, but usually goes to Rosie’s, Prentice or Eastway for his meals. Smouse said he is a little cramped for space and feels he needs more room to cook than what his residence hall room allows.

A representative from Residence Services said every hall is equipped with some type of kitchen facility. This ranges from one kitchen per building to one on every other floor. Some halls have full-sized refrigerators, stoves and microwaves.

Although cooking facilities are provided, all students are eligible for Dining Services meal plans, which range from a premier plus plan at a cost of $1,800 per semester to a commuter and off-campus plan at $660 per semester.

Students carrying the Premier Plus and premier food plans can use their money, which rolls over, through graduation, while those with the Basic or Lite plan lose any leftover money at the end of the school year.

Any money left on a student’s meal plan at the end of the fall semester will carry over into the spring semester. Freshmen and sophomores are required to participate in the plan.

Instead of spending $81.25 on meals, which is the normal weekly allowance for the basic food plan, Hawkins said she averages $20 to $25 a week on food.

“I’m a bargain shopper,” Hawkins said. “I probably spend more money when I buy meat, but overall, I build on what I already have.”

Contact features correspondent Ruth McCullagh at [email protected].