University of Minnesota students frustrated with what’s being served up at the campus dining halls

Complaints on campus are happening only three weeks into the new school year at the University of Minnesota. 

Parents, with students graduating in 2026, are sharing photos taken by their kids from inside the resident dining halls, within a private Facebook group. The pictures show what’s being offered for meals, and sometimes the lack of any food.

“We’ve been getting Lunchables and pizza, that’s about it,” said Donovan Verdi, a freshman living at Middlebrook Hall on the U’s west bank.

As an active person, Verdi says he’s disappointed by the lack of nutritional food being offered.

“I need more than a Lunchable to fill my diet,” said Verdi.

“I usually eat at other dorm dining halls honestly,” said Aysa Tarana, who packed her own lunch Wednesday, thanks to some grocery money from dad.

“I wish the dining hall food was a lot better, or just like that they would have more options because options are really limited,” said Tarana. “I’m vegetarian on campus, so it’s very limited for me.”

Other pictures shared in the parents’ Facebook group showed empty buffets, where unlimited food should be.

“I went there once at 9 p.m. to eat some dinner because I knew the dining hall was open, and there was like nothing there except like for cookies,” said Tarana.

A problem that these on-campus dining halls are facing right now is staffing shortages. The University told WCCO they are 142 employees short right now, and they reduced hours of operation, as part of mitigating that problem.

As for the Lunchables, the University said in a statement:

[The Lunchables] are not a meal or meal replacement in residential dining. In this case, the product was nearing the expiration date and a well-meaning employee placed them out for students to take for free. rather than simply having them expire, but didn’t mark them as such to make it obvious. All the Lunchables had been claimed before a manager arrived to address the situation. 

Still, students tell WCCO they feel short changed.

“I feel like we should be getting a lot better food for how much we’re paying to go here,” said Verdi.

Students pay around $2,500 per semester for a dining hall meal plan.

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