To-Go Program Is Too-Gone

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Dining Services has put a temporary pause on the to-go box program

Between packed course loads, long work days, and conflicting practice schedules, Pacific students have grown to rely on the to-go box program to get through the day. Whether it be taking breakfast to eat between team lifts and a morning class, or grabbing dinner before heading to a class study group, to-go boxes have played a major role in how students can manage their health and their busy days. For years now dining services have allowed students to take meals away in exchangeable to-go boxes for a one-time fee of eight dollars. The program has become a staple of the UC experience, where students can routinely be spotted walking with freshly filled green boxes. 

   But this semester, the program suddenly has become “unsustainable” and has been put on an indefinite suspension. The reason? Pacific University Dining Services blames a lack of returned to-go boxes.

   This issue shortly follows a semester full of asking students to return various plates, cutlery, and bowls—with the dining hall going so far as to host an event called “dish day” in hopes that students would return their dishes. The shortage of dishes was noticeable as the dining hall this term has been filled with an abundance of paper plates and bowls in place of real, ceramic dishes. According to General Manager Kevin Means, the dining hall simply doesn’t have enough dishes to keep ceramic bowls and plates out for an entire meal time. It seems the efforts to retrieve the dishes were fruitless, and now the problem has officially spread to to-go boxes.

   Though his supervisors declined to comment on the issue, I had the chance to chat briefly with Means about the state of the program. In our conversation, Means provided some valuable insight. He informed me the number of to-go boxes in the dining hall is currently sitting somewhere around five total; obviously not enough for every student who paid for one. Pacific Dining is encouraging students to return any loose to-go boxes in order to get the program back up and running again. In the meantime, Means explained that disposable, single-use to-go boxes will be available to students during all meal times. He also clarified students who want to wash their to-go box and use it without exchanging it will not be permitted to, as it violates several health codes. 

   Meanwhile, Pacific students’ alarm at the lack of to-go options is growing. From the money invested into owning to-go boxes to the lost convenience, those on the meal plan are feeling the impact of the loss. Pacific junior and student-athlete Debi Chun shared her experience: “Our practice times are right when the UC opens or closes for dinner. Without a to-go box, I cannot run in, grab my food, and head to practice. What am I supposed to do?” 

   Sophomore Lacey Churfield agreed and elaborated, stating: “When I have a super busy day to-go boxes are super helpful. I can bring food to class or a study group, instead of having to either miss a meal or miss my class. I think taking away to-go boxes is a bad idea, and it significantly impacts how students, especially student-athletes, can get dinner.” 

   Another student remarked the policy doesn’t do anything but incentivize stealing other UC dishes, continuing the cycle of missing dishes from first semester.

   Overall, the dining hall is optimistic returning to-go boxes will get the program running again. Though the lack of dishes as a whole is a concerning issue, the dining hall plans to continue supplying alternative options, whether that be plastic bowls or disposable to-go boxes. Students left with any lingering questions or concerns can reach out to Means with questions about the to-go boxes, or the dining hall as a whole. 


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