Students wait in long lines, want more food options on campus

Students wait in lines to buy food at the University Student Union on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2021. (Adam Solis/The Collegian)

Students are facing long lines at the University Student Union (USU) and are expressing a need for more food options at the university.

Fresno State’s primary dining options at the USU currently consist of Subway and Panda Express, with a vacancy at the former location of Robertito’s Taco Shop. Students oftentimes find themselves waiting in lines during peak lunch hours of the day in order to buy food.

Josh Hernandez, a freshman majoring in pre-law philosophy, said there have been occasions where he has had to wait for over an hour for the line to finally get to him. Hernandez said that on a good day he waits around 45 minutes in line. On a bad day, he expects to wait an hour in line to get his food.

“Sometimes it varies. Sometimes you’ll get like these extremely long lines and sometimes it’ll be really quick,” Hernandez said.

Patrick Murphy, a junior majoring in business administration with a focus in marketing, has noticed the issue of restaurants not meeting the demand of students’ orders. He thinks it may have to do with the number of employees and the space provided for the food vendors to operate in.

Gabriella Montes, a junior math major, agreed with Murphy’s thoughts and said she has noticed the impact of students trying to get their food during the lunch rush.

“You know some students are kind of like in a rush trying to get their food and it’s always packed so I think having more employees will help speed up the process a bit,” Montes said. 

Megan Sarantos, the director of university dining services, said there is a severe staff shortage and that dining services hope to fill the vacant positions within the coming weeks.

Taco Bell Express, located across the USU, opened later in the semester due to this issue.

“We, like so many other food service operators in our area and across the state, are facing a severe staff shortage. We have been working very hard to repopulate our entire department and have hired almost 150 new employees, primarily students, since July. We still have a number of [vacancies] across the various operations, including in the food court. We hope to be fully staffed in the coming weeks,” Sarantos said.

The Fetch app, initially proposed as a way to help expedite the process of getting food on campus for students, isn’t providing the same experience for students across the different vendors, Murphy said.

“The Fetch app works pretty smoothly with The Bucket, but with like Panda Express I’ve noticed they just get behind because of how many people they have in line, so packing the orders with only one line, especially when the employees have to pack the orders in the same place. I think they just get overwhelmed sometimes,” Murphy said.

However, Sarantos said that using the Fetch app is the perfect solution to long lines and recommends students and faculty use it to eliminate the need to wait in line longer.

“We take student feedback and concerns very seriously and are working to improve the situation as quickly as possible. I also want to encourage everyone to download Fetch,” Sarantos said. “It is easy to use and expedites orders for pick up.” 

Sarantos said that the new Resnick Student Union (RSU) will not have centralized cashier stations like ones in the USU food court, which will help eliminate the need to wait in line.

“Each retail food location will have their own register and the customer will pay when they order their food, eliminating the need to wait in line twice,” Sarantos said. “I am also confident that having three additional food concept locations and a coffee concept will lighten the impact on the operations located in the existing USU.” 

The lease agreement with Robertito’s expired in May 2020. Lisa Boyles Bell, the Fresno State public information officer, said Julio’s Taqueria will replace the vacant spot. It is expected to open in spring 2022.

“We are in the process of identifying additional campus dining options that will be located in the Resnick Student Union which will open in fall 2022,” Bell said. “Consultation with our student leadership and Food Service Advisory Committee continue in regard to the final recommended concepts that will be located in the new RSU.”

Students have noticed a lack of variety among the dining options on campus. Many hope the RSU will incorporate more food vendors that aren’t fast food burger stops but healthier and more flavorful options.

Murphy said providing healthier food options like a grab-and-go fruit station at different vendors would help cut down on time in line because students would be able to find a variety of options at one vendor instead of having to waste time going to multiple locations trying to get a healthier meal.

“I do think the university should provide meals that aren’t fast food options. I definitely think there are other CSUs that have better dining options than us,” Murphy said. “Maybe something like Panera, things like that where it’s fast food but it’s really not and where there’s actual work put in and it’s not something that’s been reheated, especially healthier options.”

Leonardo Osorio, a freshman majoring in animal science, said that he hopes the variety in dining options reflect the food that students would prefer to have on campus.

“I feel like a variety of options would be good, like how people were saying that they need some Indian food here and some Mexican food,” Osorio said. “They just have Taco Bell but that’s not really like Mexican food and I feel like all the other places to eat here are more like American places to eat and I feel like a lot of people come from different cultures and I feel like there should be a mix of food places.”

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