On-campus dining options should extend business hours


Ash Hallas | Special to The Union

Student Carlos Munoz was feeling hungry on Thursday, Sept. 29. He stopped by the El Cappuccino restaurant before doing some homework on campus.

There was only one problem: Munoz attended afternoon classes. 

It was after 2 p.m., and the doors were locked.

El Camino College has two main on-campus dining options, El Cappuccino located by the bookstore, and Cafe El Camino near the Humanities Building. The two locations operated by third-party vendor Pacific Dining are not open beyond 2 p.m

El Cappuccino is open from 7:30 a.m to 2 p.m Monday – Thursday and from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Fridays. Cafe El Camino operates from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Monday – Thursday.

The restaurant does not open on Fridays.

The El Camino College campus is still acclimating to the return of in-person classes after two years of strictly virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so limited operational hours are understandable in this transition phase.

But with in-person classes comes hungry people. 

Around campus, many students, faculty and staff have experienced the frustration of trying to catch a quick bite to eat in between classes only to realize on-campus dining is closed. 

One might argue that, admittedly, more students are on campus in the mornings and early afternoons. 

According to the El Camino College Office of Institutional Research and Planning, the fall 2022 semester has 1,115 in-person courses (or classes) available. Of those 1,115 on-campus classes, 356 starts at or after 2 p.m. 

That means 32% of available in-person classes begin after on-campus restaurants have closed their doors. 

That 32% accounts for 6,120 current enrollments. 

While enrollments are not a direct representation of student count due to duplication, that is still a sizable number of students, not to mention staff and faculty, who simply don’t get the availability of on-campus nutrition. 

Vendors and school officials should work together to find solutions rather than closing early.

The Union staff attempted to speak with Pacific Dining representative Rick Mahone to clarify why dining shuts down at 2 p.m.

However, The Union could not get an interview after Mahone refused to comply with its interview policy.

Neighboring Compton Community College is significantly smaller than El Camino in terms of campus and enrollment size.

They have one on-campus dining option that a third-party vendor also runs, and their operating hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

While the restaurants are open roughly the same hours in the day, the operational hours at Compton allow afternoon students and staff to take advantage of hot meals while still giving adequate time for morning students.

Vice President of Administrative Services Abdul Nassar at Compton Community told The Union he wants to expand hours from 7:30 a.m to 7:30 p.m when it becomes feasible. 

While the details and logistics may differ here at El Camino, there is a way to do it. 

To alleviate the growling stomachs of late afternoon students and faculty, El Camino and Pacific Dining should make efforts to extend dining hours. 

Editorials are unsigned and are written and voted upon by the editorial board.