Quarantine food comparisons between the 2021 and 2022 school year

While students in quarantine last year received pre-packaged dining hall options, this year they are being provided with $50 in GrubHub funds per day.

blakemore house with cars parked in front of it

Hunter Long

Blakemore House, as photographed on Sept. 25, 2019. (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long)

Duaa Faquih

Students in quarantine this semester are allotted $50 of GrubHub cash per day to spend on food. This system differs from last year’s quarantine dining experience, sparking reactions from students.

In an email to The Hustler, the Office of the Dean of Students and Campus Dining said that the idea for GrubHub quarantine dining stemmed from success with similar plans used during the 2020-21 academic year during breaks and this past summer. 

“Given the initial success of the system, as well as anticipated lower number of students in quarantine and isolation and more in-person needs in the dining facilities across campus this year, moving to this model made more sense in terms of staffing efficiencies and coverage when people need to go into quarantine and isolation at times that do not align with the prior meal delivery timeline,” the email reads.

Last year, instead of receiving Grubhub funds, quarantined students were instructed to go to a designated location to pick up all of their meals for the next day between 6 and 8 p.m. CDT the night before. They also had the option to order food and groceries with their own money. 

“We just went up there and they asked if you had any dietary restrictions and what color Gatorade you wanted, and that was it,” sophomore Miguel Beristain, who was quarantined in September 2020, said. “They only had one option for you—unless you had some sort of dietary restriction and I don’t—so they just gave me whatever they had.”

Beristain said the quality and nutritional value of the food he was provided was worse than regular dining food. 

“I felt like it wasn’t sufficient, especially [because] you’re sick and feel awful,” Beristain said. “It kind of felt like we were being punished for having COVID. I ended up ordering food a lot.”

Patrick Gamble, also a sophomore, said that his dining experience while in quarantine in February 2021 was similarly unsatisfactory. He said that these dining insufficiencies were potentially exacerbated by the fact that he was quarantined during the February 2021 snowstorm that hit Nashville. 

“They gave us three days worth of food all at the same time,” Gamble said. “Obviously not everyone eats everything that’s in the food, so you kind of had to pick the things out of the meals that you would actually eat, and so I had nine meals total, and I probably got one full meal out of them.” 

Gamble stated that he spent nearly $150 on GrubHub that week to supplement the quarantine dining. 

“There was no way for us to get extra food except for GrubHub, so that was the main way that I got food during quarantine,” Gamble said.  

Overall, students have expressed more satisfaction with the GrubHub quarantine dining stipend than last year’s system. 

“I definitely appreciated that I had so many choices with GrubHub and could get whatever I was feeling for,” sophomore Aryana Valedon, who was quarantined in September 2021, said in a message to The Hustler. “I definitely think this is a better system.”

Gamble was quarantined for a second time during late August 2021 and chose to quarantine at home but was still able to utilize the $50 GrubHub stipend for food. He agreed with Beristain that the GrubHub plan was more efficient than last year’s system, but expressed reservations about the amount of the stipend. Valdeon agreed, stating that an extra $10-15 would have been helpful to supplement some of her meals.

“Personally, I think I could get a whole day’s worth of food out of $50, but you would probably be a little bit more limited to what you could get,” Gamble said. 

The Office of the Dean of Students and Campus Dining both reported receiving positive feedback regarding the new quarantine dining system. 

“This plan provides more flexibility and variety for students in a variety of ways, including meal options, accommodation of dietary needs and delivery times,” the email reads.