Readers’ Forum: No time to eat at the Cannon Center

Because the Cannon Center hours are inconvenient, students often find themselves skipping meals, which is not healthy. If the hours were different, students would have the ability to eat three times a day and get more energy. (The Daily Universe)

I just woke up after sleeping in on a Sunday morning. I roll over, grab my phone and see 9:55 a.m. illuminated on the screen. After laying in bed for 10 more minutes, I muster the strength to drag myself from my cozy bed. I proceed to walk over to the sink, splash water on my face and brush my teeth. I then turn to my closet to pick out an outfit for the day, but then the unthinkable happens: My stomach rumbles. The thought shoots into my mind of, “Wait, what time is it?” and, “Can I still make it for breakfast?” 

I race to my phone which sits on the opposite side of my dorm room and view the screen once more where the time now reads 10:16 a.m. “Not again,” I think. Breakfast closed at 10 a.m. and with my hands now tied, I continue to get ready for the day on an empty stomach. The next few hours seem like an eternity. I get ready and attend church, all while trying to ignore the signs my body is sending to tell me I’m hungry. The second hour of church is agonizing as I count down the minutes until the clock reads 2:05 p.m. As soon as my congregation is dismissed, we all fly down the hill straight towards the Cannon Center, like vultures swarming a dead animal. 

However, unavoidably the time approaches 2:30 p.m., the time at which lunch closes, and the chances of me missing my second meal of the day heightens. I am now speed walking and breaking a sweat when I finally burst through the doors of the building. At this point it seems fitting to dive to swipe my card so I can enter the cafeteria, but I restrain. Once I finally make it into the dining hall I swiftly pick up one of the provided meals and promptly sit down to enjoy my first bite of the day. The time is now 2:20 p.m.

This is what BYU college students who live in the Helaman Halls dorms during the summer term deal with on the daily. The meal times the Cannon Center —the cafeteria where freshmen students eat— provides, are tricky to work around and make it difficult for students to eat three meals a day. 

It is safe to say most college students stay up later at night and therefore sleep in more in the morning. This sleep schedule alters the times they eat meals throughout the day. Surveys show the average freshman goes to sleep at 1:58 a.m. and wakes up at 10:26 a.m. on the weekend. This time frame clearly misses the breakfast times the Cannon Center provides on the weekends, which are 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on Saturdays, and 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on Sundays. Because of their sleep schedule, students find themselves sleeping through traditional meal times and skipping meals. 

I have a class for a three hour block from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This is at the least an inconvenient time in regards to lunch. Yet, the Cannon Center makes it impossible for one to grab a bite to eat either before or after the class because the lunch hours on weekdays are 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A resource guide for student life called Out Scholar says “the typical college student starts class around 10 a.m.,” and “the typical college student ends class around 3 p.m.” If a student had this class schedule, they would be missing lunchtime. Having classes to work around forces students to plan out their schedule around the Cannon Center’s dining hours, which can be nearly impossible. 

Research done by the University of Louisville warn us of the consequences of skipping meals. The study states doing this can cause “headaches, the body to lower its metabolism, leave us with little energy, make us feel weak and shaky, leave us sluggish and tired,” among other examples. The bottom line is skipping meals is not good for our bodies. The effects are not always prominent, but eating at sporadic times can slow students down and leave them having a harder time focusing. This is not a good thing to struggle with while enrolled in college course. Because the Cannon Center hours are inconvenient, students often find themselves skipping meals, which is not healthy. If the hours were different, students would have the ability to eat three times a day and get more energy.

“Why don’t you just eat somewhere else?” you may ask. Well, the thing is, each freshman at BYU must live in the dorms for at least one year unless they are approved otherwise. If you want to live in Helaman Halls, you must get a meal plan through the university. The only meal plan available in the summer is Dining Plus which costs $1,112.50 for the term. This plan ensures you can eat all three meals at the Cannon Center each day. Because myself and every other student is practically being forced to buy this plan when they enroll at BYU, wanting to get your money’s worth and eat there every day is a common theme. This is not a reality because of the poor hours of the Cannon Center. The crazy sleep schedule of a college student and the class times provided for specific courses do not make this a realistic possibility for most.

Going back to the fact that on average college students don’t go to bed until 1:58 a.m. on weekends, dinner at the Cannon Center closes at 6:30 p.m. everyday of the week besides Sunday, when it closes at 5:30 p.m. Even if a student eats at the end of the dinner hours on a Friday, they will likely still be awake for roughly 7 more hours. The possibility of them getting hungry again before they go to bed is very high, which means they will need to go off campus or head to the vending machines to get something to fill them up until the morning. Dinner ending so early is leading to students spending more money elsewhere on top of the charges from the meal plan they already purchased. This is neither cost effective or reasonable.

If the Cannon Center were to change their hours, this would greatly benefit students by providing them with the opportunity to make it to eat at the cafeteria for each meal. Slightly shifting each meal to close at a later time would make it so the hours can accommodate more people and their schedules. If each meal time opened an hour later and closed an hour later this would be achievable. This change would make it possible for students who wish to sleep in, to be able to still get a nutritional breakfast, and students who have long class blocks such as myself would have an easier time working out when to get to get to lunch and those who desire to have a later dinner would be able to do so.

Let’s be honest, not all students have the same schedule and not all students want to eat around the same time. It is not possible for the Cannon Center to please everyone with their hours, but one way to accommodate the majority is to ask students what time block they would prefer each meal to be at. They can be better served as “customers” of the Cannon Center because the hours will likely match their lifestyle better. One way to go about this is by creating a survey which students fill out when they apply for a meal plan. This way they can get opinions directly from the consumer and then adjust the schedule each term based on the responses. This will make people happier and allow students’ voices to be heard. 

Changing the Cannon Center hours will greatly benefit the vast majority of Helaman Halls students. A change needs to be made so we can get three meals a day while balancing the busy schedule of a college student, which includes staying up late and sleeping in, going to classes and having a social life. The Cannon Center is the perfect place to eat. It has a variety of meal options and is located close to the dorms. The only thing which would make it more perfect is making the hours more catered to college students so they can eat each meal at the Cannon Center and get their money’s worth.

–Tyler Bills

Highlands Ranch, Colorado

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