Illustration by Tyler Carpenter
Student-athletes were a fixture in UVU’s Valley View Cafeteria right up until the space closed last spring to usher in three fast-food restaurants in its stead. The restaurants, Panda Express, Chick-fil-A and Farr’s Express, were expected to be ready for business in time for the start of fall semester but their opening has since been delayed.
Jared Sumsion, senior associate athletic director, said there are adjustments for the athletic department to make since the closure of the cafeteria. In the past, student-athletes received a certain number of meals from the cafeteria per week which were paid for by each team’s budget. Now, Sumsion said they are buying food like sandwiches or noodles from the athletic department’s sponsors at a discounted price in order to feed the teams after practice and before games.
The soccer and volleyball teams have been primarily affected by the closure as their seasons are already under way. Sumsion said he hopes to find a more permanent solution to feeding athletes but acknowledged that it is too complicated to solve overnight. Adding to the dilemma is coaches not wanting the athletes eating fast food several times a week but also wanting them to be able to refuel their bodies after burning calories on the practice field.
Connor Salmon, senior midfielder for the men’s soccer team, said he, along with the rest of the soccer team, ate at the cafeteria five times a week during his first three years at UVU. In addition to meals during the week, the soccer team would gather in the cafeteria to eat before games. This year, however, Salmon said the team is being fed in various other ways to try and fill the void left by the cafeteria’s closure.
“We still do our game day meals, but it’s not there,” Salmon said. “Since we don’t have the cafeteria or anything like that, we’ve been having sandwiches [in the locker room], whether it’s Jersey Mike’s or Which Wich. Tuesday, I think the culinary guys did something for us. Basically, we have sandwiches or noodles scattered through the week.”
Salmon said the biggest adjustment has been the lack of variety of food the team is receiving now compared to the options the cafeteria presented.
“With the cafeteria, we had $8 a day to spend, so if you only spent $3 you could go back and spend your additional $5 later in the day,” Salmon said. “But now we just eat before training and you hope everyone likes what comes in or else you don’t eat.”
Sumsion said the athletic department is still exploring various options to feed the athletes. The restaurants opening in place of the cafeteria are currently scheduled to open in January, which should alleviate at least some current concerns.
Ty Bianucci is a life-long fan of the San Francisco Giants, 49ers and Golden State Warriors who started on the sports beat for The Review, but now contributes investigative stories. He, along with two of his colleagues, were awarded the Sunshine Award in 2018 by the Society of Professional Journalists.