Café 84 will serve us better as a dining hall

EVK Restaurant and Grill has only three options you can really count on: chicken nugget Tuesdays, Caesar salad and French fries. These foods are among students’ favorite dining hall specialties, but they are hardly suitable staples for a student’s diet.

Lener Jimenez | Daily Trojan


For vegetarians, the popular cafeteria foods are reduced to salad and fries. And for vegans, gluten-free eaters, kosher eaters and plain healthy eaters, the choices are even more limited.

Fortunately, USC Hospitality is responding to student feedback.

By summer 2012, King Hall, which houses Café 84, will become a buffet-style dining hall like EVK and The Parkside Restaurant — with a twist.

The change will give next year’s students with dining plans a third, healthier option.

USC Hospitality Director Kris Klinger has said that the new swipe-in facility will be modeled after Whole Foods, offering plenty of healthy food. The goal of the transformation is to have an improved salad bar and more made-to-order options alongside familiar dining hall hot foods, with an emphasis on local, sustainable ingredients.

The diverse student body USC prides itself in comes with a variety of dietary needs. More choices mean better odds for students with dietary restrictions. A made-to-order food bar would allow vegetarians to keep meat out of their stir-fry orders and would allow people with allergies to avoid their allergens. They will not have to settle for fries, salad and plain rice.

A swipe-in facility in King Hall will allow students with meal plans to get more for their money. Students with the basic plan will no longer be excluded from high-quality food on campus or have to pay out of pocket to get it. The Gold Meal Plan allows students to use their dining dollars at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center or Trojan Grounds while taking advantage of their swipes at a healthier dining hall. And the Trojan Meal Plan users can still spend their abundant dining dollars everywhere on campus, including dining halls.

Upperclassmen might protest the transition to a swipe-in dining hall. Saying goodbye, however, to Jamba Juice, Daphne’s Greek Café and Wasabi Sushi is more cost-efficient for freshmen, who are required to purchase a costly meal plan if they live on campus. The majority of upperclassmen live off campus, where other options are easy to come by.

Some students who live off campus depend on Café 84 for lunch and snacks, but the change will not exclude them entirely. They might choose the community meal plan that includes dining dollars and swipes, both of which would be usable at the new King Hall facility.

Considering the price of entrées and beverages at Café 84 presently, the cost to eat at the new buffet-style dining hall would not be significantly greater — a swipe at EVK costs $11.50. Students could get larger, healthier portions for their money’s worth.

Thanks to the efforts of USC Hospitality and steady student feedback, changes are coming quickly to USC’s dining facilities.

Keep responding to surveys and voicing your opinion. USC Hospitality is making positive changes, but there is still more work to be done.


Kate Kuczynski is a freshman majoring in linguistics.

2 replies
  1. Roy
    Roy says:

    I disagree with the author’s opinion that the meals would not become not significantly greater in price. If we estimate a current average price of meals at Cafe 84 at $8, the price hike to $11.50 would mean equates to a 44% price increase. If this is not significant, I don’t know what is.

    The author argues that for the price, the students will get a healthier, larger portions of foods. However, this may sounds oxymoronic to some. One of the bigger problem of average american diet is its large portions. The food maybe healthier, but essentially forcing students to eat larger portions to get their money’s worth may negate many of its benefits.

  2. John Timms
    John Timms says:

    While I agree with the author’s main point, that it is better for Cafe 84 to become a dining hall rather than continue as a food court, I feel that both the author and USC Hospitality continue to miss the mark when attempting to make healthy food available on campus. I am not a vegetarian. I do not have food allergies. USC Hospitality continues to fail not only those two classes of people, but also “ordinary” eaters such as myself.

    When you visit Parkside or EVK, what options are there for fresh vegetables? Two or more varieties of rice? Some kind of plain beans? Mashed potatoes? These are hardly sufficient. The only reliable source of freshness are the salad bars at both locations. You are lucky to find a single pan of steamed broccoli in the buffet, or possibly some exceptionally dry sliced carrots. EVK has recently begun offering corn- however it is corn that appears to have committed suicide in a bath of melted butter. The bottom line is, there need to be more healthy, appetizing vegetables served in the dining hall steam tables. A single “fresh” item per day is not enough.

Comments are closed.