Yale Dining Services is strongly considering a readjustment to the time blocks for meals in the dining halls, eliminating many of the rigid restrictions now in place. Dining services administrators are right to pursue more flexibility within an already expensive plan that dictates rather than accommodates students’ schedules.
One tentative proposal, blending the breakfast and lunch time blocks to allow two swipes anytime before 5 p.m. and one for dinner, is a practical alternative to the current system. Because of the nature of the nocturnal collegiate lifestyle, most students do not have the time to follow a traditional three square meal schedule. If, for example, a student eats a late breakfast at 11:30 a.m., which falls in the lunch block, then that student cannot eat again until 5 p.m., the beginning of the dinner time block. Conflicts like these have prompted administrators to try blending and eliminating “time zones” — such as allowing students to have three meals at any point in the day or two meals before 5 p.m. to blend the breakfast and lunch slots.
Cost, of course, remains an issue. Two dinners are more expensive than two breakfasts, for example. But this should not discourage experimentation. It is, after all, unlikely students will end up eating the same meal multiple times a day. Flexibility of any form in Yale dining is always welcome, especially if it means fewer missed meals and money better spent.