Riverside Market, one of the dining hall options on campus.

Dining Halls at Shepherd: What Do Students Think?

Shepherd University is home to two separate dining halls: Ram’s Den (Shepherd’s original
dining hall) and Riverside Market, which came with Potomac Place, a new dorm building
introduced in 2017.

These two areas are where students of Shepherd, both commuting and in-dorm, go to commune, drink, and most of all, eat.

The two spaces hold very different eating options depending on what you are looking for. Ram’s Den has a more traditional cafeteria style of dining, while Riverside has what seems to be a more “convenient store” look.

Speaking from personal experience, I am a commuter. I don’t spend much time on campus, so I’ve only ever gone to Ram’s Den for when I am in need of a pick-me-up and something quick.

It has a lot more of what I’m looking for. But what about the students that live on campus? Where do their interests lie? To get an inside point of view on the matter, I interviewed my friend and fellow classmate Abby Van Meter.

Abby lives on campus and agreed to answer a few of my questions that I asked her regarding her dining hall situations.

Q. Which has better food: Ram’s Den or Riverside?
A. Definitely Riverside.

Q. As a resident at Potomac Place, is eating at Riverside easier, or do you actually prefer Ram’s Den? If it is easier, what makes it easier?
A. Ram’s Den sometimes because they have healthier options. But it is quicker in Riverside.

Q. Which dining hall has a better variety of food?
A. Ram’s Den has a better variety.

Q. Does Ram’s Den having a Starbucks improve its quality over Riverside?
A. No, I don’t really think Starbucks is much of a factor because you normally want to go for the food and not so much a drink.

Q. Do you think there should be another dining hall somewhere on campus at Shepherd?
A. Yes because at the end of the day, neither are really my preference to get food. The general idea on that last question seems the same; most prefer to stay in their dorm, or drive off back to home, rather than sit down and eat food provided to them by the school.

I tacked on that last question after finding out that there actually used to be a third dining hall. According to supicket.com, since the closing of D-Hall, this fabled third dining hall, production at the other two halls have skyrocketed. But Ram’s Den wasn’t built to handle larger orders like D-Hall did.

To solve this problem, meal prep was to happen at D-Hall, and the food would be shipped to Ram’s Den. Meanwhile, Riverside, at the time of its opening, was the big, new, shiny cafeteria on the campus of Shepherd. It was very popular when it first opened, and even now that popularity has grown due to the residents of Potomac Place finding it so convenient.

Overall, another reason might be stepping away from these dining halls is due to the price. Sure, having a meal plan and having that covering the cost entirely just for a swipe is convenient, but the plans themselves are costly.

Speaking again from the perspective of being a commuter, I don’t have meal swipes, only dining dollars. This is due to the lowest meal plan, the “All Dining Dollars” plan, being recommended the most among all commuters.

The lowest plan, the aforementioned “All Dining Dollars” plan, comes up at $350, and offers $375 worth of dining. It’s basically an EBT card for students. The highest offer (and frankly the most expensive plan) is the Gold Plan, which costs $2,599. The plan itself offers a whopping 21 meal swipes a week. with $300 in dining dollars tacked on as well.

There are other plans sprinkled between these two, but with the lowest possible plan costing $350, that can seem a bit pricey to most students, which could be another factor in why most students don’t eat at these dining halls.

The plans aren’t the only worry. Like Abby, many think that the food itself just isn’t that good. I’ve never had a problem with it, but I know there were some times where I knew I got food that I shouldn’t have.

In terms of the Ram’s Den, the sandwich bar is really the star of the show. Perhaps because it’s a “build-it” type of section of the dining hall. Apart from that, there are a lot of healthier alternatives (like Abby mentioned) that could be chosen from.

Both dining halls do a good job at providing for the students. But it may be the students themselves who don’t want the food. Perhaps by reopening D-Hall, or making an entirely new location would satisfy the students who don’t want the dining hall experience.

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