Tabetha DeGroot – Staff Writer
It’s been a long day of classes and homework and the world has got you down. Nothing is going right today and you feel like curling up in your tiny, hard, dorm bed and just staying there forever. The harsh Iowa wind seems to be trying to blow you off the sidewalk. Your stomach rumbles. The Commons doesn’t open for a few hours yet and the thought of eating there makes you even more sad anyway. Then suddenly, you come to a beautiful revelation. You can meet the bros at the grille for a Defender sandwich! Nothing warms the heart more than toasted Defender sandwich on a pretzel bun. The melty cheese, savory bacon, and the iconic defender sauce come together in a tender embrace on your taste buds. With the first bite, your sadness melts away and the sunshine breaks through the clouds and streams into the giant windows of the Campus Center.
But the days of sunshine and defender sauce are over.
Afternoon meal exchange has been nixed and it is a source of great sadness to those of us who remember the old days. Yes, you can still get a Defender using cash or defender dollars, but it goes without saying that students have very limited amounts of both forms of currency. The reason afternoon meal exchange has been done away with is because it supposedly draws too big of a crowd. However, all those who would have normally gone to the Grille are now forced to congregate in the Commons where it is arguably harder to social distance at times than at the Grille. Those who just want a meal to go also must go to the Commons, causing even more congestion. Getting meals to-go from the commons takes a long time because you still go through a line while at the grill you can order remotely, swing by, and grab your Defendie. Social distancing is still possible with a large amount of people at the Grille due to the wide- open space, including couch and patio seating.
While the grille provides a speedy option for to-go meals, we should also keep in mind the effect sharing a meal with others has on us psychologically. Emotional health is especially important right now with the chaos going on around us and the lack of human interaction we have been facing for the past few months. Students have busy schedules, and sometimes the only time we can sit and eat a meal with others is in the middle of the afternoon. According to the Mental Health Foundation, “Mealtimes make people feel connected to others,” something that has become harder to do in recent times but is still vitally important.
And let us not forget the effect of the food itself. “95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract,” a Harvard Health Publishing article said, “it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions.” Having a defender with the bros is more important than you might think.
All that being said, I do understand that these are different times and Dordt Dining is doing their best. However, this decision needs some reconsidering. Evening meal exchange is still allowed (and for that we are very grateful) and it is going just fine. The crowd that is drawn by evening meal exchange could very possibly be reduced by having an afternoon meal exchange option. I am aware that there are many changes we will just have to accept, but I beseech you Dordt Dinning, bring back the Defendie for meal exchange!